1. Tom Hooper, The King's Speech *WINNER
First-time Oscar nominee Tom Hooper has been lauded for his work on The King's Speech, about the rise of King George VI and his struggle to overcome his crippling stammer. Though Hooper has directed two other films, Red Dust and The Damned United, he was previously best known for his work on the HBO Films' Elizabeth I and Longford, the television revival of Prime Suspect, and the epic miniseries John Adams.
2. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky has been considered a force in Hollywood since his debut feature ??, which won a Sundance Film Festival award and Independent Spirit award. His follow-up films, Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, were both critically acclaimed and earned its stars Oscar nominations. This year, Aronofsky joins their company with his nod for Black Swan, a psychological thriller about a ballerina competing for the lead role in a production of Swan Lake.
3. Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
Joel and Ethan Coen, known to moviegoers as the Coen brothers, have been directing and producing films together for more than 20 years. This year's Best Director nomination for the Western True Grit—the second film adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 novel of the same name—is the Coens' second in the category. They won the statue in 2008 for No Country For Old Men, which also earned them a Best Picture Oscar. This year, they are also nominated for Best Screenplay.
Since their debut in 1984, the Coens have churned out classic comedies including The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona and The Hudsucker Proxy, as well as movies with a film noir flair, like Miller's Crossing. The Coens have won two Best Screenplay Oscars, for No Country for Old Men and Fargo, and they were also nominated for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and A Serious Man.
4. David Fincher, The Social Network
Filmmaker David Fincher is nominated this year for The Social Network, about the founding of Facebook and the legal battles that have followed CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Fincher won a Best Director Golden Globe® for his work on The Social Network.
Best known for his dark, haunting films—who can forget the final scene in his 1995 hit Se7en?—Fincher got his start producing some of the most spirited and entertaining music videos of the 90s, including Madonna's ???Vogue,??? Aerosmith's ???Janie's Got a Gun??? and George Michael's ???Freedom '90.??? After making the switch to film, Fincher made his mark on Hollywood with films like Fight Club, The Game and Panic Room. Fincher earned his first Oscar® nomination in 2009 for his work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
5. David O. Russell, The Fighter
First-time nominee David O. Russell is receiving rave reviews for his work on The Fighter, based on the true story of boxer ???Irish??? Mickey Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg, and his brother Dicky Ecklund, played by Christian Bale. The Fighter marks his third film with actor Mark Wahlberg, who also starred in the comedy I ??? Huckabees and the Gulf War film Three Kings.