1. Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
I am making a very bold prediction right now. I think the Academy feels the need to reward PT Anderson after There Will Be Blood, and outside of acting, the direction seems to be getting the most praise. Also, Weinstein is backing PT all the way to the finish line.
2. David O'Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
With this being the predicted winner, it would only seem right for this to win Best Director. Problem is though, I've seen lesser notices for direction, but more for the acting. Weinstein might also be busy backing PT Anderson to give enough recognition for Dave.
3. Ang Lee, Life of Pi
This will be like Hugo. The Academy will feel the need to recognize a visual film, and it will give the awards in the visual categories. Ang Lee is a big name, however, and the Academy might want to give him some more love after what happened with Brokeback Mountain.
4. Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
The main thing holding back Tom Hooper is his recent King's Speech win. He is a very bold director, especially with what he is doing in this film. He will be nominated, but probably not win.
5. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Just because his name is Spielberg doesn't mean he will be rewarded the gold. He might not even be nominated, like last year's War Horse. Tomorrow we will know as tonight it screens in NYFF.
I hate to leave out Ben Affleck for Argo, Kathryn Bigelow, Wes Anderson, Benh Zeitlin, Michael Haneke for Amour, or Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises. Check back tomorrow for Best Actor predictions.