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Motion Picture: Directors

2008 Golden Globes nominees

Tim Burton, “Sweeney Todd”
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”
Julian Schnabel, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
Ridley Scott, “American Gangster”
Joe Wright, “Atonement”

The Golden Globe for directing has tended of late to go to established veterans, often to repeat winners such as Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese, and to visually straightforward productions of serious-minded stories. This year’s field has veterans but no previous winners.

The most stripped-down film in the field is the Coen brothers’ “No Country for Old Men.” The HFPA hasn’t cottoned much to the Coens in the past, but they’re among the best known in the bunch, and that may give them a leg up.

The other two returning heavyweights in the field are Tim Burton and Ridley Scott. In “Sweeney Todd,” Burton may have finally found a story that makes his fantastical style an asset at the Globes. Scott, like Burton, has had one previous nom; with “American Gangster,” he keeps the focus on character, and Globes voters like that.

Joe Wright and Julian Schnabel are the relative newcomers in the field. “Atonement” boasts clever discontinuous narrative and its dazzling Dunkirk beach sequence, but if history is any indication, such theatrics may not prove an asset with Globes voters. Schnabel’s work should appeal to artier sensibilities and has the benefit of being more distinctly “foreign,” which could play well with the HFPA.