Baker doesn't know what his follow-up to The Florida Project will be -- it could be a small character-driven story about someone traversing the US and working in the underground economy, he teases, or it could be something else entirely -- but he doesn't want people to expect him to choose another marginalized community. "That's not what I do, and if I did do that, what sort of person would I be?" he said. "That calculation is very condescending and is totally against the message of my movies."
What worries him is that predictability. He doesn't want to let people down. "People who are like, 'Well, I hope that in you're next film I'm going to be crying or learning,'" he explained. "That's what's been keeping me up at night, that I may not deliver to those people who have certain expectations."
So things are bittersweet going into the Oscars. Baker isn't the kind of filmmaker who craves awards. The trade-off, of course, is awards, especially Hollywood's biggest, come with a certain level of exposure. And when you're trying to promote a film that is, in a sense, a sort of awareness project, every chance to be a part of a national, or international, conversation helps. "Because of the light it would shine on the issue," Baker said, "and also because I love Willem and he deserves it, I'm praying for him to win."
As for Baker's own glory? "I hope to continue to get financing," he added, "but I don't need this boost from the Academy to continue."