The Oscar contenders are dropping like flies!

OK, so things aren’t quite so dire. But with movies like ‘Foxcatcher,’ ‘Grace of Monaco’ and Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ pushed back to 2014 (or currently in curious limbo), the ongoing Oscar race shifts gears on a daily basis. Where do we stand at the moment? Let’s run through our picks for the current frontrunners in the Best Director category. Agree? Disagree? Weigh in below:

  • 1

    Alfonso Cuaron, ‘Gravity’

    Last Week: 1

    Cuaron is a brilliant director, whose credits include the mesmerizing ‘Children of Men,’ the scintillating ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien,’ and the best ‘Harry Potter’ installment, ‘Prisoner of Azkaban.’ And yet, his three Oscar nominations have been for editing and screenplay (twice). This year, he seems poised to break into the Best Director category with ‘Gravity,’ a game-changing exercise in tension and execution that left jaws on the floor at Telluride, Venice and Toronto. ‘Gravity’ is a magic trick of a film, an unprecedented trip to outer space that will have audiences floating. If he doesn’t earn a nomination, the entire system is broken.

  • 2

    Steve McQueen, ’12 Years a Slave’

    Last Week: 2

    Masterful direction on the part of McQueen makes the harrowing, brutal ’12 Years a Slave’ a can’t-miss proposition … even though I’m in no rush to watch his drama again any time soon. It’s just a lot to handle, this story of a free man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) having his existence stripped by deceitful slave traders. But it’s impossible not to appreciate McQueen’s calculated decisions as he brings this true story to the screen. ‘Slave’ earned a healthy amount of awards heat in recent weeks, and I believe he is locked into a Best Director slot.

  • 3

    Paul Greengrass, ‘Captain Phillips’

    Last Week: --

    Greengrass’ true-life account of the heroic Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his fight to survive against Somali pirates opened this year’s New York Film Festival and turned up the heat on the film’s Oscar campaign. Both Hanks and the movie, in general, received over-the-top raves, with several awards pundits saying the director could earn his second Best Director nomination. Seeing as how he was robbed for the blistering ‘United 93,’ a makeup win isn’t totally out of the question, either.

  • 4

    Joel and Ethan Coen, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

    Last Week: 3

    The Coens are no strangers to the Academy, scoring multiple nominations for recent pictures like ‘True Grit,’ ‘A Serious Man’ and ‘No Country for Old Men,’ which took home multiple Oscars. If ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ has the same effect on Academy voters as it did on Cannes critics earlier this year, the siblings could be back in contention early next year.

  • 5

    David O. Russell, 'American Hustle'

    Last Week: --

    I’m starting to hear rumblings that this is going to be Russell’s year. He has been in contention lately with Oscar-winning dramas ‘The Fighter’ and ‘Silver Linings Playbook.’ We don’t know a lot about ‘American Hustle,’ and it’s looking like it will be one of the last awards contenders to reveal itself … which just might work in its favor, seeing as we’ll have picked over ‘Gravity,’ ’12 Years’ and the Oscar frontrunners that come before it. Plus, if 'Hustle’ is as good as sources tell me it is, Russell will secure his fourth Oscar nomination.