Oscars 2015: Best Directors – Who are they?

Who are this year’s contenders for the Best Director Academy Award? There’s one Mexican, one Norwegian and three Americans – and for a few, it’s their first-ever nomination for the Oscars. FilmsInFive takes a closer look at 2015’s five male nominees…

1   Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)

Who: 51 year old film director, screenwriter, producer and composer. One of the ‘Three Amigos’ (fellow Mexican virtuosos of course being Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro).

From: Mexico City.

Filmography highlights:  Amores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006), Biutiful (2010).

Trademark:  Themes of death (his first three feature films formed ‘The Death Trilogy’); cultural borders and divisions; human compassion, complex parent-child relationships. Birdman is Inarritu’s first comic venture.

What else?  Next up for the director will be the December 2015 release of The Revenant, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Hardy and 22-year-old rising star Will Poulter.

2  Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Who:  American director and screenwriter, aged 54.

From: Houston, Texas.

Filmography highlights:  Dazed and Confused (1993), Before Sunrise (1995) / Before Sunset (2004) / Before Midnight (2013) trilogy.

Trademark:  Rotoscope animated film-making, relationship themes, single-day based films, coming-of-age comedy-drama. His style veers towards experimental, loose and non-formulaic narrative. Has collaborated many times with actor Ethan Hawke.

What else?  Richard’s been a veggie since his early 20s, and worked on an adaptation of the book Fast Food Nation. Still lives in Texas, refuses to spend extended periods of time in Hollywood.

3   Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Who:  48 year old American film director.

From: New York City.

Filmography highlights: Capote (2005), Moneyball (2011).

Trademark:  Masterful command of silences in his movies. Draws deep insight into characters, in large part through speech. “I’m fascinated by people who have real voices,” he says.

What else? He’s about as low-key as they come. “I am a tumbleweed… I don’t have a company. I don’t have a staff. I don’t own anything—I’ve never owned a car or an apartment.” Has now directed six actors to Oscar nominations – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo. (Hoffman, an old college friend of Miller’s, won for his role in Capote).

4  Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Who: American director and screenwriter, 45. (Youngest of the five directors.)

From: Same place as Linklater – Houston, Texas.  Has Swedish and Norwegian ancestry.

Filmography highlights: The Royal Tenebaums (2001), Fantastic Mr Fox (2009).

Trademark: Arguably the most distinctive and visually stylistic of modern-day film-makers – Wes has an obsession with intricate, symmetrical compositions, hand-made art direction (frequently using miniatures), and restricted colour palettes. Uses a lot of slow-motion shots, flat space camera moves, snap-zooms. Fast-paced, absurdist comedy is his thing.  Recurrent themes of grief, loss, sibling rivalry, and unlikely friendships.

What else? Anderson is the great-grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan. Spends a lot of time in Paris.

5  Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Who: Least known on the list – Norwegian film director, 47.

From: Norway; educated in New York.

Filmography highlights: Buddy (2003),  Fallen Angels (2008), Headhunters (2011) – which still stands as the highest grossing Norwegian film of all time.

Trademark: Tidy action thrillers with complex narratives; expert genre films; ‘outsider’ characters a key theme.

What else?  His first English-language feature film earned him an Oscar nod – how many directors can say that? Future prospects include Sony space drama Passengers (potentially to star Jennifer Lawrence) and the adaptation of the novel Pattern Recognition by William Gibson.


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