At more than a few points in the film you can feel Docter pouring his own heart and soul into his characters, making Inside Out as much a meditation on the highs and lows of parenthood as of adolescence.
Haynes is a master sensualist, using image, music and sound to stimulate all our senses, not just the aural and visual ones. He ensures that every frame is filled with sublime, unspoken details.
Only a madman like Miller could pull this off with the sheer mind-shredding gusto that filmmakers half his age consistently struggle to inject into modern action movies. Oh, but such method in his madness!
Brilliantly interpolates from one of history's darkest hours to forge a real emotional connection with his audience. He captures humanity at its most awful and its most beautiful all at the same time.
Villeneuve is a master of mood, stretching the tension tighter than a drum for prolonged stretches with his surgical attention to form and construct – A modern-day Hitchcock?
Danny Boyle for Steve Jobs
Other strong considerations:
Lenny Abrahamson for Room
Ryan Coogler for Creed
Tom McCarthy for Spotlight
Ridley Scott for The Martian