May 18 Update - Cannes confirms what we all suspected. The Coens have done it again.
No Locks Yet
The Coen Brothers - Inside Llewyn Davis
They've gone from gonzo outsiders to directing icons. This only misses if it's too small and artsy for them (A Serious Man didn't get a directing nod to go with its picture nod) or if the competition is too strong (a real possibility this year)
Ryan Coogler - Fruitvale Station
Fruitvale is his first film, but the Oscars often saves a spot for the breakout talent of the year. Just look at Benh Zeitlin last year.
Asghar Farhadi - The Past
Richard Linklater - Before Midnight
He's been at the forefront of the indie world for ages and the Before Trilogy is clearly a crowning achievement.
Noah Baumbach - Frances Ha
Like Richard Linklater, Baumbach has been turning out acclaimed films since the mid-90's. Frances Ha is a career best, but is likely too small and idiosyncratic for even the director's branch. Especially with no shortage of indie competition. Full Review
Shane Carruth - Upstream Color