The five nominated directors will form an all-boys club this year – and no one’s likely to protest it. JANE CAMPION’s The Portrait of a Lady was just too reserved; BARBRA STREISAND’s The Mirror Has Two Faces, too self-referential.
Meanwhile, Larry Flynt director MILOS FORMAN [A] (already a two-time winner for 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and 1984’s Amadeus) is a shoo-in. Since the directors’ branch traditionally welcomes new talent, however, it’s safe to assume the remaining lineup will be filled with some unusual suspects: the darkly funny JOEL COEN [B] (Fargo), Australian newcomer SCOTT HICKS [C] (Shine), English realist MIKE LEIGH [D] (Secrets & Lies), and third-time director ANTHONY MINGHELLA [E], whose 1991 Truly, Madly, Deeply in no way suggested his ability to handle the sweeping romanticism of The English Patient.
Danish LARS VON TRIER, whose Breaking the Waves won over the New York Film Critics Circle, leads the backup list, also including British stage director NICHOLAS HYTNER (if The Crucible pulls out of its critical and box office tailspin); six-time nominee WOODY ALLEN (if his musical Everyone Says I Love You is judged more than just a trifle); and the irreverent DANNY BOYLE (if the sometimes stuffy directors on the nominating committee can stomach Trainspotting). The Academy may deem ALAN PARKER’s Evita less art than music video (albeit a very grand video). And since the directing nominations almost never match up with the Best Picture nods, CAMERON CROWE (Jerry Maguire) is the prime candidate for odd man out; snobbish directors often snub big, shiny Hollywood hits.
As Big Night, the story of quarrelsome brothers Primo and Secondo, proves, if two men can put aside their egos and play to each other’s strengths, the result can be a feast for the soul. The seamless elegance of codirectors STANLEY TUCCI and CAMPBELL SCOTT’s film suggests they’ve already figured that out.