Oscar nominee profiles

A look at the best director nominees for the 85th Academy Awards.

MICHAEL HANEKE

Michael Haneke

Age: 70

Nominated for: Amour - a French-language drama about sickness and dying that focuses on an elderly couple in a Parisian apartment.

Oscar record: None.

The critics said: "Magnificent in its simplicity and its relentless honesty about old age, illness and dying, Michael Haneke's Amour is a deliberately torturous watch, one that is going to weed the master's fan club of the lightweights who went along for the ride with the morbid mental puzzle-solving of Hidden and Palme d'Or winner The White Ribbon." Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

ANG LEE

Ang Lee

Age: 58

Nominated for: Life of Pi - based on the fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel about young man who survives a disaster adrift in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger.

Oscar record: Won best director for Brokeback Mountain (2005). Nominated for best director for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (2000).

The critics said: "Ang Lee has brought to the screen a seemingly unfilmable story with breathtaking mastery of computer animation. His previous achievements - such as Brokeback Mountain, Sense And Sensibility and The Ice Storm - have shown him to be one of the most versatile directors on the planet." Chris Tookey, Daily Mail.

DAVID O RUSSELL

David O Russell

Age: 54

Nominated for: Silver Linings Playbook - a romantic comedy drama starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence about people with mental health issues.

Oscar record: Nominated for best director for The Fighter in 2011.

The critics said: "This romantic comedy-drama from director David O. Russell represents a merger of the two sides of his filmmaking personality - the freewheeling spirit of his early indies (Flirting With Disaster) and the more traditional crowd-pleasing tone of The Fighter." Tim Grierson, Screen Daily

STEVEN SPIELBERG

Steven Spielberg

Age: 66

Nominated for: Lincoln - follows the eponymous president's bid to end slavery in North America while examining the relationship between Abraham Lincoln, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, and his wife, Mary (Sally Field).

Oscar record: Six previous nominations for best director - won in 1993 with Schindler's List and for Saving Private Ryan 1998. Seven of the films he directed received nominations for Best Picture. Schindler's List won in this category.

The critics said: "The phenomenal Daniel Day-Lewis plays Lincoln with immersive, indelible power in Spielberg's brilliant, brawling epic. Spielberg and Kushner don't stop for flashbacks and backstory. Lincoln is all forward thrust and hot-damn urgency." Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

BENH ZEITLIN

 US director Benh Zeitlin

Age: 30

Nominated for: Beasts of the Southern Wild - a magical-realist story about Hushpuppy, a young girl who finds her world changed forever when a Katrina-style storm raises the waters around her ramshackle community.

Oscar record: None.

The critics said: "Benh Zeitlin's debut feature is part film, part hallucination: a ripe and gamey piece of what you might call Apocalyptic Southern Gothic, ambitious and flawed but sprinting with energy." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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