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Ranking the Oscar nominees: best director

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

There are directors who win awards for their managing of actors. There are others who win for managing grand vistas, casts of thousands and the heavy demands of technology. This year, those leaning toward a win for Alfonso Cuaron have to concede his enormous technical skill: "Gravity" was visually splendid, and made as good a use of 3D as we have seen in modern times. But is that enough? As fine as Sandra Bullocki is in "Gravity," is the film more than a suspenseful adventure?

I have written elsewhere about the currents in the film, the echoes of the Old West especially, but I am still not convinced it is a film as rich in character and ideas as "12 Years a Slave" or "Nebraska." So, while I admire what Cuaron did, and understand the urge of some voters to split the difference between "Gravity" and "12 Years" by giving the former best director and the latter best picture, I at this moment go a different way, Specifically, in descending order, like this:

Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave"

Alfonso Cuaron, "Gravity"

Alexander Payne, "Nebraska"

David O. Russell, "American Hustle"

Martin Scorsese, "The Wolf of Wall Street'

I did at one point have Payne in the second spot, and I may change my mind again, but I have to concede that Cuaron did make considerable magic.

That's it on my preferences going into the awards in a few hours. Catch up with me on Twitter (@RHeldenfelsABJ, #OscarsABJ) or in some posts here.

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