It's one of life's cruel ironies that, moments after Tom Hooper won the Best Director Oscar for The King's Speech, the telecast then decided to show highlights from the Governor's Awards where French iconoclast Jean-Luc Godard, who "regretfully" couldn't make it, received an honorary Oscar for his 50 years of continually redefining cinema and pushing its boundaries. Whether or not he would have appreciated the honor, here is a man who gave us Anna Karina silently crying to The Passion of Joan of Arc and Jean-Paul Belmondo & Jean Seberg seductively and slyly bantering back and forth in her bedroom, who created a nearly 10 minute long take of a congested traffic jam as a metaphor for capitalism run amok and who gave a voice to leftward politics without trivializing it or making them the enemy, and how many Oscar nominations does he have to show for it? Zero. Meanwhile, Tom Hooper, with a whole bunch of respected-if-not-quite-beloved TV movies and one feature film on his resumé, waltzes up to the podium on his first try for The King's Speech. Now, I'm not one to believe that a director must "pay his dues" before he can be called a great director or even win an Oscar; there are plenty of guys who have proved they had exactly what it takes to be a great director within their first few tries. But who in their right mind thought while watching The King's Speech, "This guy, Tom Hooper, he's got something! What a bright future he has!"? You may notice the respectable acting, The Wall, the off-centered cinematography or the "quirkiness" of the interactions between Firth and Rush, but absolutely no one leaves the theatre thinking that Tom Hooper had any real point of view or the balls to take this film in any slightly uncomfortable direction. He's a fine organizer and may even be good at eliciting performances from his actors, but that's not all that is required of a director, especially one with a Best Director Oscar. They have to offer something more and I'm afraid Tom Hooper simply hasn't shown he's even remotely capable of doing that.
And just because I'm super bitter about the whole thing--I was literally in the fetal position when he won last night--here's a Best Director Oscar statistic for you:
Tom Hooper: 1. Hitchcock, Bergman, Fellini, Truffaut, Godard: 0.