Best Director: David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky Are the Year's Standouts

© 2010 by Columbia Pictures
Director David Fincher on the set of 'The Social Network'
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For complete Oscar coverage, including photos, videos and Peter Travers' breakdown of who should win, who will win and who does win, click here.

Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (True Grit)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)
David O. Russell (The Fighter)

Download Peter Travers' 2011 Oscar ballot (right-click and choose "save as")

Favorite: David Fincher for The Social Network. He's already proved his skill at marrying content and style with Fight Club, Seven and Zodiac (OK, I have issues with Benjamin Button). But Fincher tops himself here by hard-wiring the film’s verbal pyrotechnics to his peerless visual drive.

The 10 Best Movies of 2010

Spoiler: Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech. Since the Best Picture race will come down to The Social Network versus The King’s Speech, so will the category that rewards the wizard behind the curtain. But for me, Black Swan’s Darren Aronofsky is the only other nominee who pushed the bounds of directing last year.

Oscar Guide: What Should Win and What Will Win at This Year's Ceremony

Switcheroo: I'd sacrifice anyone but David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky for Inception's Christopher Nolan. Gotta be the biggest snub of the Oscar season. Nolan is a Fincher-level visionary, and the fact that he’s been spurned for Memento, The Dark Knight and now Inception speaks to Oscar flaws. Note to the Academy: It’s a new century. Get onboard.