With The Oscars less than a week away, the race for Best Director is looking very tight. While Alexander Payne (Nebraska) and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street) are out of contention at this point, the race between Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), and David O. Russell (American Hustle) is still too close to call.

 

(Related: BAFTA 2014 Awards Recap And Oscar Predictions)

 

Cuaron is the obvious choice. He has won both the BAFTA and the Golden Globe, and while that’s far from a guarantee, it certainly doesn’t hurt his odds. Gravity has been lauded as a masterpiece, and is looking like the frontrunner thus far.

 

The only problem with that is, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave has proven to be the leader of the Best Picture race. Split’s in Picture and Director obviously aren’t unheard of; however, the Academy hasn’t had this in the past two years since the 24th/25th Academy Awards. With Argo and Life of Pi sharing the awards just last year, don’t be surprised to see 12 Years a Slave winning both.

 

(Related: Best Picture Preview: Oscars 2014)

 

There is, however, a dark horse that may come and steal the prize away from the two frontrunners. David O. Russell’s American Hustle has recently gained hype leading up to the big night. It would be an odd choice for The Academy, and O. Russell who has a small chance at winning on March 2nd despite being in third place.

 

Oddly enough, the films that should be in hot contention for the award are the two weak links. Nebraska and The Wolf of Wall Street are the strongest of these five films, with the former having a slight edge. Nebraska is the best movie about the Midwest since Fargo, and is one that you should make an effort to see.

 

Of the three that do have a shot, though, 12 Years a Slave should win. It’s by far the best of the three. American Hustle is well-crafted and fun to watch, but it’s ultimately forgettable. And Gravity may be a technical masterpiece and wonder to look at, but 12 Years a Slave is the movie that has stuck with many since it came out in theaters in 2013.  Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Spike Jonze (Her), and Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing) all could have been nominated, but overall this is a good group of nominees.

 

(Related: Film Director Profile: Steve McQueen)

 

 

Who do you think will win The Oscar for Best Directing? Let me know in the comments.