This has been one of the best years for film, and while the Best Picture list is all but figured out, the Best Director category is harder to predict because there are only five as opposed to the potential ten Best Picture possibilities.
Here are the contenders for DGA in order of likelihood:
Kathryn Bigelow-Zero Dark Thirty-Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty is the most critically acclaimed film of the year, and she has gotten praise all over the board. Bigelow's proving to be a strong favorite, and ZDT is one of the two films to receive nominations from every guild, it will not fail here.
Ben Affleck-Argo-Argo is probably the most liked film of the year, and helmer Affleck is getting all of the credit. Affleck has proven his growth as a director starting with Gone Baby Gone, and creating a masterful work here. Like ZDT, Argo, is the other film which has recieved nominations from every guild.
Steven Spielberg-Lincoln-Spielberg did not get an Oscar nomination for War Horse this year, but this year he has the highest grossing film, and the film that's going to have the most nominations. Spielberg is one of three locks with both the DGA and Oscar.
Ang Lee-Life of Pi-The film is one of biggest directorial feats of the year; he is a well respected director who has been nominated three times, and won twice. Life of Pi is seen as one of the films flying under the radar, and I think it will score a nomination here.
Quentin Tarantino-Django Unchained-Django is one every one's mind, and while controversial, Tarantino is a well respected director. With a larger guild population voting; he seems to be a likely person people in television and film would nominate.
David O. Russell-Silver Linings Playbook-Never underestimate the power of directing the small intimate comedic drama. O. Russell has cornered this market, received a nomination with The Fighter, and is becoming more respected by the day.
Tom Hooper-Les Miserables-Hooper's snub from Golden Globes was the shot heard round the award show world, and based on reviews his direction has been the biggest critique. People pay attention to things like this, and while this guy received a nomination and won his first time around, I can't help but think he may be snubbed by this branch.
Paul Thomas Anderson-The Master-The Master is a well respected film from critics, but the guilds, except WGA and Golden Globes have been ignoring this film. The Master was compared to last year's Tree of Life, but this film may not have the passion that film has, and I think it will be forgotten.
Benh Zeitlin-Beasts of the Souther Wild-The little film that could has a director, who helped right and score his own film. Zeitlin's first feature film is a crowning achievement, and he could score nomination here out of respect. The hard part is that this film has been ignored a lot as well, although being talked up by many.
Over the last few years DGA has matched Oscar solidly, but the changing time frame may prevent this. Looking from 2001 through 2011, the DGA lined up well.
In 2001 DGA nominated Baz Lurhman for Moulin Rouge, and Christopher Nolan for Memento, they were replaced with veteran directors Robert Altman for Gosford Park, and David Lynch for Mullholland Dr. In 2002 Pedro Almodovar's direction for Talk to Her was nominated for the Oscar, while Peter Jackson was nominated for the DGA for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The following year Gary Ross received a DGA nomination for Seabiscuit but was replaced at the Oscars with City of God director Fernando Mirielles. There have been only two years within the last 10 where Best Director has matched up with the DGA and Oscar, and they were 2005, and 2009. Statistically every other year DGA has predicted 4 of the 5 nominees. So who will be the five for DGA, and who would most likely get replaced?
Kathryn Bigelow-Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee-Life of Pi
Quentin Tarantino-Django Unchained
(My 6th Man-Tom Hooper-Les Miserables)
Come Oscar nomination time I think Michael Haneke from Amour will score a Best Director nomination, and replace one of these men. This would follow a trend in this category.