The unexpected (but not altogether surprising) news of Guillermo Del Toro leaving The Hobbit has left Middle Earth fans sad and uncertain. Though Peter Jackson, Warner Bros, and New Line promised a fast replacement, things have been relatively quiet on the rumor front. And no wonder? It takes someone as brave as a hobbit to sign onto the mess that is MGM.

But one name has surfaced this week. Slashfilm caught an insider glimpse of industry tracking boards, and reports that David Yates is the top choice for the job. This is rumor, and no talks have taken place, but it's not that wild of a choice. Yates has proved himself with two Harry Potter films, and I can't imagine he's really going to drop the ball with either part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The only issue might be one of timing. Filming on Deathly Hallows just finished this weekend (those who follow the cast and crew of Hogwarts on Twitter saw the tearful tweets), and Yates is now heading into post production. Yates couldn't visit Middle Earth until sometime next year. But given all the delays and financial woes that are bogging down production, it's very likely that's the soonest Bilbo Baggins will be ready to receive him.

I think Yates would be a very good choice. The Hobbit is a much smaller story than Lord of the Rings, and one of its charms is seeing a very epic and grand journey through the eyes of one grumpy, cold, and timid Bilbo. His arc from a creature of habit to a Thief is a subtle one. Yates has never lost sight of the little moments that makes Harry and his friends who they are, and he could keep the focus on that arc, instead of getting lost among the Misty Mountains.