From Ben Affleck to Joss Whedon
Tom Hooper - 'Les Misérables'
Pro: The last time Tom Hooper went to bat in awards season, things turned out pretty well for the Brit: he may have lost the BAFTA on home turf, but “The King's Speech” took the DGA Award and four Oscars, including Best Director. The TV-trained helmer's fourth feature film is also his largest and most ambitious to date: expectations are high. The trailer, meanwhile, suggests that the distinctive (if divisive) stylistic tics Hooper honed on “Speech” are much in evidence here, so there's little risk of his personal brand being subsumed by the vastly popular source material.
Con: When buzz is this elevated, the film is all the more vulnerable to backlash if it doesn't entirely deliver. Meanwhile, one senses there are many in the critical community looking to take Hooper down a peg or two: his Oscar triumph over David Fincher two years ago wasn't well-received in many quarters, and the burden of proof is on him. Also, if he manages the nod, will voters really think he's ready to join the elite club of two-time winners so early in his film career?
- Guy Lodge