Oscar Watch: Director

As so often happens, the director race should closely mirror the picture race, though the two are voted on by different groups within the Academy. Best picture nominees are chosen by the entire membership, directors only by members of the directing wing.

Helmers like Ron Howard ("Frost/Nixon"), Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") and David Fincher ("Benjamin Button") likely will get nominated if their movies make it into the best picture grouping.

That is also likely to be true for Sam Mendes ("Revolutionary Road"), Baz Luhrmann ("Australia"), Gus Van Sant ("Milk"), Stephen Daldry ("The Reader") and Mike Leigh ("Happy-Go-Lucky").

There are, of course, a few exceptions. Darren Aronofsky may stand a better chance for helming "The Wrestler" than the movie itself. Same with Oliver Stone for "W." And Jonathan Demme might be rewarded for his unorthodox, casual style in shooting "Rachel Getting Married."

Unlike the acting categories, the Academy has no rule forbidding one director from scoring two nominations in the same year -- as Steven Soderbergh did in 2001 with "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic" -- which means, in theory, that Eastwood could be up for both "Changeling" and "Gran Torino."
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