From Ben Affleck to Joss Whedon
Dustin Hoffman - 'Quartet'
Pro: As a debut director, it can be hard to attract the attention of the sometimes cliquey Academy to your film – but it probably helps when you're already a bona fide Hollywood legend. The directors' branch is often sympathetic to actors moving behind the camera (Ben Affleck should benefit from that habit this year), and affection for Hoffman will encourage many voters to give his easygoing first feature a spin, particularly with a cast full of more veteran stars and the Weinstein publicity machine behind it.
Con: With all due respect to Hoffman, this amiable but anonymous debut – which shows its stage origins all too clearly – doesn't suggest the actor picked up an awful lot from working with the likes of Mike Nichols, Sam Peckinpah and Bob Fosse. While his fellow actors might like the film more, the directors are unlikely to sense a major talent emerging, while The Weinstein Company has more heavyweight filmmakers to push.
- Guy Lodge