Who should direct The Hobbit?S

Given that our first two choices — Peter Jackson, who said he can't, and Guillermo del Toro, who just bailed — are out of the running, who should step up to the plate? Here are five names worth considering.

To be fair, those two guys are still the first, best choices to direct MGM two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Jackson is still Jackson, the dude who finally brought forth a live-action Lord of the Ringsand won Oscars for it. And del Toro is the most supple film-fantasist working today whose last name isn't Jackson. But since they can't/won't do it, here are some contenders:

Who should direct The Hobbit?S

BRAD BIRD
The director of The Iron Giant and The Incredibles can deal in the massive spectacle, the soft humor, and the wrenching emotion — and, so far, the man hasn't made a bad movie. Granted, his live-action debut, Mission: Impossible 4, is still on the horizon, so we don't know how that'll turn out.

Who should direct The Hobbit?S

ALFONSO CUARON
He can thrive in a world created by others — as evidenced by his work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the best of the Potters — and he can operate on a grand, mythical scale as well as a smaller human one.

Who should direct The Hobbit?S

THE WACHOWSKIS
After the unjustly maligned Speed Racer — and the perfectly justly maligned latter Matrixes — these guys could use a home run to reassert their preeminence in the geek spheres.

Who should direct The Hobbit?S

NEILL BLOMKAMP
He's already got a good working relationship with Jackson, having worked with him on District 9 — which was, oh yeah, awesome. I'm sure he wants to spread his wings a bit, but this is the friggin' Hobbit.

Who should direct The Hobbit?S

SAM RAIMI
Look, The Shadow's never gonna happen — nor should it; Lamont Cranston's time has come and gone — and Spider-Man's off his plate. He can handle the big, he can handle the effects, he can handle the heart.