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Oscars 2020: Who should win the Best Director award?

Who would win if Sam Mendes and Tarantino had a fight?

Oscars 2020: Who should win the Best Director award?
Andrew Williams
07 February 2020

Five directors have been nominated for this year’s Best Director Oscar. They are all men, meaning 2020 won’t be the year we see a second female winner, after Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar for The Hurt Locker in 2010.

It’s a bummer, but there are still five worthy nominees to speculate about.

Should Martin Scorsese beat Todd Phillips? Was Bong-Joon Ho’s Parasite the real masterpiece of 2019? or does the cinematic tour de force 1917 deserve yet more attention, following its direction wins at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Critics’ Choice Awards?

We want to know what you think. Upvote the film and director you think should win this year’s Best Director Oscar, and downvote any you think barely deserve a nomination.

Oscars 2020: Who should win the Best Director award?

Oscars 2020: Who should win the Best Director award?

1. Bong-Joon Ho - Parasite

Odds to win: 4 to 1

Parasite’s Bong-Joon Ho is second favourite to win the Best Director Oscar according to the gambling odds. You may notice the exceptional leading performances most on first watch, but the film also features exceptional bipartite world-building. The underworlds of the struggling classes are metaphorical and actual, even as the film centres increasingly on a single location, the house of a rich family.

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Oscars 2020: Who should win the Best Director award?

2. Quentin Tarantino - Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

£6.99
View now at Amazon

Odds to win: 16 to 1

As one of the most celebrated directors in cinema, we are not surprised to see Tarantino in the nominees list. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood features all the hallmarks of this auteur’s work, including sassy dialogue, ultra-distinct stylisation and kinetic violence.

In a lesser year Tarantino might be tipped to win this award, but he’s currently third favourite according to the odds.

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Oscars 2020: Who should win the Best Director award?

3. Sam Mendes - 1917

£13.99
Pre-order now at Amazon

Odds to win: 1/8 to 1

A technical tour de force like 1917 is an obvious choice for Best Director, and the bookies seem to agree. Even if a lot of the credit belongs to legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins.

The film is shot in “single take” style. What few cuts exist are effectively hidden so they don’t stand out to the viewer, letting the film exist as a single visual narrative thread. Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman is perhaps the best-known example of this style from recent years.

Mendes won the Golden Globes’ Best Director award, and seems to have this Oscar in the bag too.

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Oscars 2020: Who should win the Best Director award?

4. Martin Scorsese - The Irishman

Watch now on Netflix

Odds to win: 33 to 1

Martin Scorsese has been nominated for a best direction Oscar nine times. He has won it just the once, for The Departed — far from his best movie. But will he make it the double with The Irishman, also largely regarded as one of his lesser works?

The odds say not this time, at 33/1. However, there’s plenty here to enjoy for Scorsese fans. It’s like a meeting of old friends, with a cast that includes De Niro, Pacino and Joe Pesci. Set aside an evening because this is one clocks in at three and a half hours.

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Oscars 2020: Who should win the Best Director award?

5. Todd Phillips - Joker

£12.99
Pre-order now at Amazon

Odds to win: 100 to 1

In 2018 Todd Phillips would have seemed an unlikely candidate for a best director Oscar. Before Joker he directed gross-out comedies like Old School, Road Trip and all three The Hangover movies. 2016’s War Dogs is the one clear exception.

Joker’s 1980s Gotham City setting is grimy and dark. And the film features a few truly memorable set pieces such as Joker dancing down some steps to, erm, a Gary Glitter song. You can see this replicated on Instagram accounts across the world.

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