Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” is terrific. And it wouldn’t have been anything but a generic cop-and criminal-caper if it weren’t for the pure craft of his dynamite direction. With his verve for bad-boy fantasies, why shouldn’t he win after being nominated five times? This is Martin Scorsese we’re talking about, and here he’s directing something as good as his very best. Or is that just a guilty vote?

Paul Greengrass’s “United 93” was held together by an exemplary respect for a tragic event that never veered into saccharine drama. Stephen Frears’s tightrope balancing of “The Queen” as a tragedy as well as a comedy of manners is something few directors could actually pull off. And Clint Eastwood has ambitions unparalleled by people half his age, and with his violently aware “Letters From Iwo Jima” continues his new series of masterpieces. But the man of the year with rockstar momentum is Alejandro González I

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