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Past Oscar noms likely in director race

Never-nommed helmers, fest faves among contenders

Many of the usual suspects could reappear in the Oscar director race for 2008, including former victors such as Clint Eastwood (“Changeling” and “Gran Torino”), Ron Howard (“Frost/Nixon”), Sam Mendes (“Revolutionary Road”), Oliver Stone (“W”) and the twice-nominated Stephen Daldry (“The Reader”). Never-nominated helmer David Fincher could enter the fray for the first time with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” So could Christopher Nolan for his gritty blockbuster “The Dark Knight,” while Baz Luhrmann might finally get some love for his epic, Oz-set wartime drama “Australia.”

Helmers behind festival favorites are often feted at indie galas, but some could find themselves at the big show. Danny Boyle, who has never been nominated for his direction, won hearts at Toronto with his energetic, Mumbai-set “Slumdog Millionaire.” Jonathan Demme, a prior winner in the category for “Silence of the Lambs” in 1992, could be up again with “Rachel Getting Married,” the dark family drama that had critics buzzing at Venice and Toronto. And Tom McCarthy, whose “The Visitor” was one of the few little indie hits of the year and made its bow back in Toronto in 2007, could potentially sneak into the mix. But the fest faves seem surer bets for indie kudo galas such as the Gothams and the Spirits.

This article was updated on Nov. 5, 2008.