Over the past several years, the best director Oscar has gone to people whom most of us wouldn't recognize on the street. Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist," Tom Hooper for "The King's Speech," Danny Boyle for "Slumdog Millionaire" -- even the Coen Brothers for "No Country For Old Men" -- are not exactly instantly familiar faces. That's the way it is with most directors, who remain better known in their field than to the people who see their movies. There is one notable exception, of course, and you'll probably see him accepting his award Sunday night.
"Amour," Michael Haneke. Film snobs probably would vote for this Austrian filmmaker-philosopher, but, hey -- this is the Oscars, not Cahiers du cinema.
"Beasts of the Southern Wild," Benh Zeitlin. The 30-year-old first-timer did a beautiful job with this magical-realist fantasy. He even stole Ben Affleck's spot.
"Silver Linings Playbook," David O. Russell. The actors in this rom-com are so much fun and so energetic that you barely notice Russell's shrewd directing. Oscar voters did, but an award probably isn't in the cards.
"Lincoln," Steven Spielberg. With Affleck ("Argo") and Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty") out of the running, Spielberg seems the obvious choice. This could be his fourth statuette.