How the DGA nominations reflect the Oscar Best Picture race

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The Directors Guild of America (DGA) have announced their finalists for the “best” directorial achievements of 2014. They are Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Clint Eastwood for American Sniper, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu for Birdman, Richard Linklater for Boyhood, and Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game.

While Linklater, Iñárritu, Anderson and even Tyldum were all reasonably predictable choices, given their films’ immense popularity among industry and critics groups, Eastwood’s appearance here is surprising. I knew American Sniper was a strong awards contender, especially considering Eastwood’s clout in the industry and Chris Kyle’s popularity in the heartland, but to make the final five over the likes of Ava DuVernay (Selma), the BAFTA-nominated James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), wunderkind Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), DGA favorite David Fincher (Gone Girl) and Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) denotes real strength.

 

So what do these nominations tell us, other than Eastwood’s film is really strong? For one, it means that this year’s race for the Best Picture Oscar is narrowed down to five films: American Sniper, Boyhood, Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game. I say this because in the DGA’s 66-year history, only two films have gone on to win Best Picture without their directors receiving DGA nominations: Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948) and Bruce Beresford’s Driving Miss Daisy (1989). Even Ben Affleck, who was famously not nominated by the Academy’s director branch for Argo, scored a DGA nomination (and won) in 2012. That’s really good news for the aforementioned five films and really disappointing news for movies like The Theory of Everything, Selma, Gone Girl and Whiplash—films that absolutely needed this nomination to still play a role in the race. While DuVernay, Chazelle and Fincher and Marsh could all still pop up on Oscar’s Best Director list on Thursday morning (DGA and Oscar rarely match up 5-5), this announcement all but ends their respective film’s chances at winning Best Picture.

 

Long regarded as the most important of the guilds, at least in terms of predicting the Oscars and gauging industry passion during an awards season, the Directors Guild Award winner has gone on to win the Best Director Oscar all but seven times in the last 65 years.*

 

Directors Guild Award Nominees:

 

Wes Anderson — The Grand Budapest Hotel
This is Wes Anderson’s first feature film DGA nomination.
Clint Eastwood — American Sniper
This is Clint Eastwood’s fourth feature film DGA nomination. He was previous nominated for Unforgiven (1992), Mystic River (2003) and Million Dollar Baby (2004). He won for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.

 

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu — Birdman
This is Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s second feature film DGA nomination. He was previously nominated for Babel (2006).

 

Richard Linklater — Boyhood
This is Richard Linklater’s first feature film DGA nomination.

 

Morten Tyldum — The Imitation Game
This is Morten Tyldum’s first feature film DGA nomination.
The winner will be named at the 67th Annual DGA Awards Dinner on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.*The seven filmmakers who won the DGA but lost the Best Director Oscar were:

  • Anthony Harvey (The Lion in Winter) won the DGA but lost the Oscar to Carol Reed (Oliver!) in 1968.
  • Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather) won the DGA but lost the Oscar to Bob Fosse for (Cabaret) in 1972.
  • Steven Spielberg (The Color Purple) won the DGA but was shockingly not nominated by the Academy in 1985. The Academy awarded Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa).
  • Ron Howard (Apollo 13) won the DGA but, like Spielberg, was also not nominated by the Academy in 1995. The Academy awarded Mel Gibson for (Braveheart).
  • Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) won the DGA but lost the Oscar to Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) in 2001.
  • Rob Marshall (Chicago) won the DGA but lost the Oscar to Roman Polanski (The Pianist) in 2002.
  • Ben Affleck (Argo) won the DGA but wasn’t nominated by the Academy in 2012. Ang Lee (Life of Pi) won the Oscar instead.

 

Source: DGA

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