1. Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)

        First nomination in this category.

        del Toro has picked up just about every award this season, including the DGA, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA. Expect him to add Oscar, following in the footsteps of his fellow "Three Amigos," Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro G. Iñárritu.


2. Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

        First nomination in this category.

        Hard to believe this is Nolan's first Best Director nomination with AMPAS, but here we are. Though he's built up lots of good will and industry cred to the point of seeming overdue, he'll likely come second this time around.


3. Jordan Peele (Get Out)

        First nomination.

        Peele expertly juggles tones and genres in his directorial debut, also netting nominations for his original screenplay and for Best Picture as one of the film's producers. He is only the fifth black director to receive a nomination in this category.


4. Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)

        First nomination.

        Similarly to Peele, Gerwig also received a nomination for her original screenplay and is unlikely to challenge for the win this time out. She is only the fifth female director nominated in this category in Oscar's history.      


5. Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)

        One previous nomination in this category.

        The only director among this group to have been nominated in the past (for 2007's There Will Be Blood), PTA snuck in over heavy competition to nab this last slot.