Balloting for this year’s Directors Guild of America Awards line-up ends on Jan. 12, four days after votng closes for the Oscar nominations. Last year, the DGA roster of contenders was revealed on Jan. 7, the day before Oscar nominations ballots were due. Will this shift in timing make a difference in the DGA nominees?
Historically, there have been at least one if not two differences between the slate selected by the 14,500 members of the DGA, which includes helmers of TV fares and commercials, and the choices of the 382 members of the directors branch of the academy.
Last year, four of the five DGA contenders — Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”), Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”), David O. Russell (“American Hustle”), and Martin Scorsese (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) — went on to reap Oscar bids. The fifth — Paul Greengrass (“Captain Phillips”) — was replaced in the Oscar lineup by Alexander Payne (“Nebraska”). Cuaron won at the guild and Academy Awards.
Two years ago, the Directors Guild of America nominees were: Ben Affleck (“Argo”), Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”), Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”) and Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”) who extended his DGA record to 11 bids. Of this quintet, only Lee and Spielberg reaped Oscar nominations, with Michael Haneke (“Amour”), David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild) rounding out that race.
That disconnect between the DGA and Oscars was unprecedented. Affleck won over the DGA voters while his film, “Argo,” became the third film to take Best Picture at the Oscars without a corresponding Best Director nomination. The others: “Grand Hotel” (1931/32) and “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989).
Over the 66-year history of the DGA Awards, there have only been five instances where its lineup of nominees was identical with that of the Oscars (in all these years, the winners of both prizes were the same and are noted in gold):
1977: Woody Allen (“Annie Hall”), Steven Spielberg (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”), Fred Zinnemann (“Julia”), George Lucas (“Star Wars”), Herbert Ross (“The Turning Point”)
1981: Louis Malle (“Atlantic City”), Hugh Hudson (“Chariots of Fire”), Mark Rydell (“On Golden Pond”), Steven Spielberg (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”), Warren Beatty (“Reds”)
1998: Roberto Benigni (“Life is Beautiful”), Steven Spielberg (“Saving Private Ryan”), John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”), Terrence Malick (“The Thin Red Line”), Peter Weir (“The Truman Show”))
2009: James Cameron (“Avatar”), Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”), Quentin Tarantino (“Inglourious Basterds”), Lee Daniels (“Precious”), Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”)
Of this year’s five leading contenders for Best Director at the Oscars, who, if anyone, will be left off the DGA roster then?
In third place on our Oscars chart is Ava DuVernay (“Selma“). She has odds of 11/2 to become the fifth woman ever to contend for Best Director at the Oscars. The DGA has been slightly more welcoming of women, with six nominees over the years. Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker,” 2009) is the only woman to have won either prize.
Beyond these three, who is likely to be embraced by their guild?
Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game“) is ahead of David Fincher (“Gone Girl“) at the Oscars according to our Experts with odds of 16/1 versus 20/1. While this is Tyldum’s first English language feature (and only the fourth overall for this Norwegian helmer), Fincher has already reaped three DGA bids (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” 2008; “The Social Network,” 2010; “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” 2011) though he has yet to prevail.
Sophomore director Angelina Jolie (“Unbroken“) and four-time helmer Bennett Miller (“Foxcatcher“) round out the top eight at the Oscars, tied at 50/1. Miller was nominated by both the DGA and the academy for his second film, “Capote,” back in 2005; he lost both races to Ang Lee (“Brokeback Moutain”).
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