Best director, the nominees
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
The Directors Guild of America winner usually wins the Oscar. This year, the DGA picked Michel Hazanavicius, who directed The Artist. The smart money is on Hazanavicius because of the ascendance of The Artist among Academy voters and because of the DGA award he's already won. I'm not going to go against the smart money, but I have to reiterate my admiration of Terrence Malick and for The Tree of Life, a movie that tried to meld the personal and the cosmic. Even those don't regard Tree of Life as an unalloyed triumph (and I guess I belong in that group) surely will acknowledge that it's the most ambitious movie in the lot. I'd rule out Woody Allen in this category. In another year, Alexander Payne might have had a clear path to best picture and best director. Not this year. It's always a bit dangerous to try to assess the degree of difficulty faced by a director, but judging from afar, I'd say that Hugo is the most difficult of all the movies represented on this list, a 3-D production with spectacular sets, two child actors and a sense of delicacy that's unusual for a big movie. Still, I wouldn't bet against Hazanavicius. He's probably a lock.
What? You thought I wasn't going to mention the upcoming Cinema Salon program? You thought I wasn't going once again to invite you to join me, Denver Post Film Critic Lisa Kennedy, Starz Denver Film Festival Director Britta Erickson and Oscar maven Bob Becker at 7:30 p.m., Wed., Feb. 22 at the FilmCenter/Colfax, 2510 E. Colfax Ave. We'll help you prepare for Oscar so that you can amaze friends and family. And if we don't do that, we'll at least give you an interesting evening of pre-Oscar chat.