Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell, The Fighter
About as expected, actually. I never believed those whispers that Russell would have a hard time getting in, and I expect him to show up at the Oscars, as well. People like him a lot more than the internet thinks.
Aronofsky, Fincher and Hooper are safe as safe can be. I don't know why people expect Hooper to be the one left out in the cold. Have they seen The King's Speech? This isn't one of those "anyone could have directed it" royalty porn films, and it's just about the actors and screenplay. The direction and cinematography are ace, and those who think Hooper is at the fifth slot are sorely mistaken.
No, the one that continues to surprise me, honestly, is Nolan. I like Inception, I like Nolan, but while I think all five of these films are visually striking and tonally solid, Nolan is the weakest when it comes to performances. He's solid, don't get me wrong, I love much of what the actors did with their characters, but how can you compare it to The Fighter's family dynamics, the warm friendship and in The King's Speech, the snot-nosed youth and elitist adults in The Social Network, the camp-undertone in the operatics of Black Swan?