Surveying the field of helmers from debut filmmakers to weathered vets
Ryan Coogler - "Fruitvale Station"
Pros: From John Singleton to last year's surprise nominee Benh Zeitlin, this branch has shown that they're willing to welcome scrappy newcomers if they're sufficiently wowed by the film. And Coogler already boasts an enviable amount of acclaim and awards for his emotionally direct debut. If the conversation continues about this year's surge in high-profile black-themed and black-made cinema, that'll keep his work in the spotlight. As will the Weinsteins' campaign efforts.
Cons: When this branch nominates new filmmakers, it's usually for work that's a bit splashier than this modestly made indie. Released in the summer to a respectable but not remarkable response, the film still needs to regain its Sundance buzz.