2. Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
3. Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
4. Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
Okay so Best Director is narrowed down to these 4 right now if i look back at the precursors, The Artist and The Descendants are both the frontrunners in picture category and also a lock for the director ones. Academy loved Alexander Payne, so do i and they are going to be impressed with the French director too.
Martin Scorsese for Hugo, i didn't thought he will be frontrunner before the precursors as i thought no one would really love this family movie from a well known gangsters movie maker but he have been a strong one lately. The Tree Of Life being loved by critics would be a must have nominee this year, i don't see any other as strong as these four.
6. Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
7. Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive)
8. Steven Spielberg (War Horse)
Now from among these 4, anyone can take the fifth spot according to me and i certainly can't pick one. Moneyball had a enormous Oscar buzz when it was released but it currently forgotten, i wish he gets a nod but this movie is showing strong signs of only getting a screenplay nomination after picture, but you never know.
Woody Allen is loved by everyone but it would depend on the Oscar voters how much they liked Midnight in Paris and the way they took it. On the other hand Refn for Drive is a Cannes winner as well as won some healthy number of critics awards lately. Spielberg's War Horse may look like an epic but haven't got that type of love in the reviews.
If they don't take Midnight In Paris too lightly, Allen may have a slight chance, if they don't think Drive too small or artistic, Refn should have a chance and if by chance they love War Horse then Spielberg will most likely get it. But for now, my vote goes to Miller.
For Your Consideration
Not much directors whose work i think should be considered but count the four frontrunners along with Bennett Miller, Refn and Woody Allen in this list.
2. David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
3. Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
4. Steve McQueen (Shame)
A Big No
2. Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar)
Also visit my IMDB List if you want to.