Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg

At this year's Oscar nominations now category raised more eyebrows than Best Director as there were some surprise inclusions and omissions.

We take a closer look at the runners and riders in this category and the movies that they have helmed.

- David O'Russell delivered one of the best movies of 2012 with Silver Linings Playbook and it is great to see him recognised by the Academy.

The movie and the central performances have been gaining all of the headlines and it looked like he was going to miss out when he failed to pick up a nod at both the Golden Globes and the Baftas.

But he has delivered an incredibly touching movie that looks at the impact of mental illness and yet never belittles it.

The movie is as funny as it is touching and it tackles this issues in such a sensitive and great way.

But one thing that O'Russell really understand is family dynamics as this subject has been the strength of both Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter.

- Steven Spielberg may have been a shock omission for Best Director at the Baftas earlier this week but he is perhaps the front runner for the Oscar.

He may be known for his blockbuster work but he is also great at the dramatic epics - Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan being triumphant.

Lincoln is not a birth to death bio-pi instead it focuses on the Abraham Lincoln trying to bring the American Civil War to an end and abolish slavery.

As you may expect the movie has been a huge success in the States and has done well critically and at the box office - don't be surprised if Lincoln wins a whole host of gongs on February 24th.

-Ang Lee is one of the filmmaker in Hollywood who is not afraid to push the boundaries with the movies that he makes.

He may have brought us Brokeback Mountain but Life Of Pi sees him deliver a completely different movie.

Life of Pi is the biggest challenge of Lee's career to date - from both a visual and storytelling perspective.

The movie is based on the novel by Yann Martel and follows Pi who is stranded at see with nothing but a Bengal Tiger for company when the ship he is sailing in sinks.

Lee has delivered not only a beautiful looking movie but a powerful film about friendship and survival.

- There was a bit of a shout of surprise when Benh Zeitlin's name was read out in this category - and it is fantastic to see him recognised for such a fantastic movie.

It is hard to believe that Beasts of the Southern Wild is Zeitlin's directorial debut because it is such an accomplished and daring piece of filmmaking.

The movie is like nothing else that graced the big screen last year and already you can see that Zeitlin is not going to be just a run of the mill director.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a movie that lit up the festival circuit and was a joy to behold.

- Michael Haneke was another surprise inclusion as his movie Amour made quite a splash in a handful of the major categories.

This is the first film for the director since the critically acclaimed The White Ribbon in 2009.

Haneke is another filmmaker that is not afraid to shy away from the truth in his films and Amour is a movie that looks morality square in the face.

The movie follows a couple in their eighties whose relationship is tested when Anne suffers from stroke.

This is a subject that is rarely tackled on screen and Haneke has done it in a way that is cannot be ignored.

The winners will be announced 24th February.

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