The Best Director category is not even a competition this year. Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, and Tom Hopper were all snubbed. Argo is going in to the awards the favorite for Best Picture.
Best Director Nominees:
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
There are several notable names missing from this list: Tom Hooper, director of Les Miserables, Kathryn Bigelow, director of Zero Dark Thirty, and lastly, Ben Affleck, director of Argo. Why they were not nominated in this category is the mystery of the year. Especially Affleck and Bigelow, who helmed two of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year.
Had he been nominated in this category, I would surely predict that Ben Affleck would win. Argo has been cleaning house lately, racking up an impressive number of awards for the picture and for Affleck himself. Argo swept the SAGs and Affleck won the Director's Guild Award. But this is not a normal year and all of this means nothing in the Oscar race for best director. If you aren't nominated, you have very little chance of winning.
With that, I am going to place a safe bet. I would like to have the nerve to say that David O. Russell will win for Silver Linings Playbook or that Michael Haneke will win for Amour. But I lack the courage to make such a bold prediction. I think that Steven Spielberg will win for Lincoln because it has twelve nominations and has strong Academy backing.
Regardless of what happens, this will be an unusual year because the Best Director winner will most certainly not match the Best Picture winner. So, I'll tread cautiously in my prediction in this category for that very reason. Here's to Oscar's perennial director Spielberg getting another Oscar to add to his collection.