HOLLYWOOD—We are less than 3 weeks away from the Academy Awards and have covered the predictions for the acting races already. Now it is time to discuss Best Director. The nominees are Martin McDonagh “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Steven Spielberg “The Fabelmans,” Todd Field “Tàr” and Ruben Ostlund “Triangle of Sadness.” The interesting thing this time around is all the contenders nominated for Best Director are also contenders for Best Picture, which sometimes doesn’t happen, so they all have a stake at a win.

With that said, Ostlund’s inclusion shocked many because “Triangle of Sadness” is an odd movie. Many expected “Top Gun: Maverick’s” Joseph Kosinski or Sarah Polley from “Women Talking” to be nominated in that slot. They were not, even though their films earned Best Picture nominations. I don’t see Ruben as a contender here people. With that said, McDonagh has been praised for “Banshees” but the movie is so decisive. Some people love it some people hate it, while others don’t even understand it. That means it is hard to get people to vote for a movie they haven’t seen or even want to see. So count him out. So I’m seeing this as a possible three-way race, leaning more towards a two-person race.

What Field does with “Tàr” is amazing. Cate Blanchett is stellar in the film, but the movie overall suffers from being a slow burn, at times a bit too slow so it doesn’t have that punch you want in a Best Picture or Best Director contender. I loved the performances way more than the actual movie itself.  So this brings me to the two nominees I see competing for the prize: Spielberg, Kwan and Scheinert. Kwan and Scheinert craft this sci-fi drama, action-adventure “Everything Everywhere All at Once” with something I have never seen on the big screen. They mesh a variety of elements in a transitional way that is entertaining as hell at times. The problem is the movie is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is not the easiest film to follow which is something I have heard from a lot of people. You blink and you miss a key element of the movie that moves from one universe to another and then you’re lost as a viewer.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is one of those films you either love or you hate. There is no in-between people, so that could hurt the movie with some voters, but I think it’s the technical prowess that will help the directors claim Oscar in the long run. There biggest opponent is Spielberg who has been nominated multiple times, but only won for “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” I’m still livid that he lost the Best Picture Oscar for “Saving Private Ryan” which is the best war movie I have ever seen. He was most recently nominated for “West Side Story,” but has been nominated for the Best Director Oscar a total of 9 times with his latest being “The Fabelmans.”

I loved this movie and perhaps it’s personal for me as an inspiring filmmaker to see Spielberg tell his story about his love for cinema and how it emerged as he got older and he never stopped chasing after his dream in the midst of personal obstacles and family drama. For me, “The Fabelmans” is an overall triumph as a movie, where as I see “Everything Everywhere All at Once” as a technical feat not an amazing movie. However, with Oscar that doesn’t matter. The Best Director doesn’t always go on to win Best Picture and vice versa. Yes, it is odd, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a kooky group of people.

I felt the drama and passion in what Spielberg did with “The Fabelmans,” but I suspect the Academy is going to honor the prize to “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Let me be clear though, if Spielberg wins the Best Director prize (which he absolutely) can you can predict “Everything Everywhere All at Once” will win Best Picture. If “Everything Everywhere All at Once” wins Best Director, I’m certain it’s a lock for Best Picture also.