All is not lost, Joe Wright! Venerated critic David Thomson is standing by you, stating that the [Best Director] Oscar will go to Atonement in a 1.16 Guardian piece. He calls it, however, “a film that reeks of class and moral uplift and which matches the terrible state of our culture in one way only: its spuriousness.
“I am certain that Wright will be nominated for directing Atonement, and just about as sure that in fifty years he will be written off,” he declares. “The key to the direction of Atonement is its Dunkirk shot — immense, detailed, a long tracking shot which finally includes all you ever knew or thought about Dunkirk, but which feels like a shopping list where all the items are ticked off. It’s industrial assembly not direction. And it could easily win!
“Moreover, in all these predictions I am guessing what will be nominated and what will win, not what should win according to justice. Why? There is no justice. In fifty years, God willing, There Will Be Blood will stand out as a classic and Julian Schabel‘s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly will look like the transitional work in Schnabel’s career. But not very many people have seen either film, and Best Director tends to go to a reasonable success.
“For myself, I don’t see how David Cronenberg can be excluded for Eastern Promises, and I take it for granted that the Coen Brothers will be recognized for No Country for Old Men. Both films are very violent, yet directors somehow are allowed to be violent.
“Both films have a lot to say about the place of violence in our culture. They seem like genre movies — tales of lurid crime — but they are also questions about what decency can do now. And I like directors who ask awkward questions.”