Who will get Oscar noms for Best Director? -- It'll be Martin Scorsese versus Stephen Frears, Bill Condon, and Alejandro Gonzalz Inarritu

By Dave Karger
Updated January 12, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s January, which means it’s time again to ask: Will Martin Scorsese finally win an Oscar? Thanks to his vivid police drama The Departed, he’ll certainly be nominated in this category for the sixth time. Joining him will be Stephen Frears, who hasn’t been recognized since 1990’s The Grifters but deserves praise for guiding Helen Mirren through her unforgettable turn in The Queen. Two directors who should land in this race for the first time: Bill Condon, the creative force behind the ultra-energetic Dreamgirls, and Alejandro González Iˆárritu, who wove together four stories with great sensitivity in Babel. Hot on their heels is United 93‘s much-heralded Paul Greengrass, but he’s been MIA during much of the campaign season. The Directors Guild included Little Miss Sunshine‘s husband-and-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who had one of the most auspicious debuts of the year, but directing duos rarely make the cut. Voters could reward one of two other filmmakers — Children of Men‘s Alfonso Cuarón or Volver‘s Pedro Almodóvar — who turned in visionary work. But the wild card is Clint Eastwood, who was snubbed by the DGA but will still win plenty of votes for both Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima. Our bet is that the more deeply emotional Letters will send this vet back to the Kodak.

For Your Consideration

Guillermo del Toro deserves attention for deftly mixing two genres — historical fiction and gothic fantasy — in Pan’s Labyrinth. Manipulating actors as capably as special effects, he finds beauty and meaning in an eerie place where fascism meets freedom and fantasy meets reality.