Directors Guild Awards: Preview of Oscar Best Picture winner again?

In the 68-year history of the DGA Awards, the guild has honored the helmer of the eventual Oscar Best Picture 53 times. That success rate of 78% far eclipses that of both the PGA (19/28 = 68%) and SAG (11/22 = 50%). And with “La La Land” far out in front to win Best Picture according to our Oscar experts, that statistic bodes well for its helmer Damien Chazelle, who just reaped his first-ever DGA Awards nomination.

The correlation between the two awards is so strong that it could not be broken even in 2012 when the Oscar-snubbed helmer Ben Affleck won over the DGA and saw his film — “Argo” — go on to be named Best Picture by the academy.

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Last year, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu made history at the DGA Awards by becoming the first-ever back-to-back winner. He was named Best Director for “The Revenant,” having prevailed in 2014 for “Birdman.” While “The Revenant” lost the Best Picture Oscar race to “Spotlight,” “Birdman” did claim the top Academy Award.

Prior to last year, the most recent of the 15 times that there was a disconnect between the DGA choice for Best Director and the academy pick for Best Picture was in 2013. While Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”) won top honors from the guild, “12 Years a Slave” claimed Best Picture at the Oscars. (The PGA had awarded its prize to both films).

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The other unlucky 13 exceptions to the DGA rule (and four of these, as noted, also number among the seven instances where the DGA champ did not also win Best Director at the Oscars) were:

1948 — DGA to “A Letter to Three Wives” (Joseph L. Mankiewicz) and Best Picture to “Hamlet”;

1951 — DGA to “A Place in the Sun” (George Stevens) and Best Picture to “An American in Paris”;

1952 — DGA to “The Quiet Man” (John Ford) and Best Picture to “The Greatest Show on Earth”;

1956 — DGA to “Giant” (George Stevens) and Best Picture to “Around the World in 80 Days”;

1967 — DGA to “The Graduate” (Mike Nichols) and Best Picture to “In the Heat of the Night”;

1968 — DGA to “The Lion in Winter” (Anthony Harvey) and Best Picture to “Oliver!” (that film’s Carol Reed won Best Director as well);

1981 — DGA to “Reds” (Warren Beatty) and Best Picture to “Chariots of Fire”;

1985 — DGA to “The Color Purple” (Oscar-snubbed Steven Spielberg) and Best Picture to “Out of Africa” (that film’s Sydney Pollack won Best Director as well)

1989 — DGA to “Born on the Fourth of July” (Oliver Stone) and Best Picture to “Driving Miss Daisy” (that film’s director Bruce Beresford was DGA and Oscar-snubbed; Stone won the Oscar too).

1995 — DGA to “Apollo 13” (Oscar-snubbed Ron Howard) and Best Picture to “Braveheart” (that film’s Mel Gibson won Best Director as well)

1998 — DGA to “Saving Private Ryan” (Steven Spielberg) and Best Picture to “Shakespeare in Love”

2000 — DGA to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Ang Lee) and Best Picture to “Gladiator” (Steven Soderbergh won Best Director for “Traffic”).

2005 — DGA to “Brokeback Mountain” (Ang Lee) and Best Picture to “Crash”

The other two of the unlucky seven DGA champs who did not win an Oscar as well were Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather,” 1972) who saw the Oscar go to Bob Fosse (“Cabaret”) and Rob Marshall (“Chicago”, 2002) who was bested by Roman Polanski (“The Pianist”).

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2 thoughts on “Directors Guild Awards: Preview of Oscar Best Picture winner again?

  1. And in 1948 it was merely a timing issue: “A Letter to Three Wives” competed at the Oscars in 1949 opposite 1949 DGA winner Robert Rossen’s “All the King’s Men”. Mankiewicz won Best Director; “All the King’s Men” won Best Picture. (The DGA’s award year has lined up with the Oscars ever since.) Even with the 1948-49 timing issue, only once (2000) has DGA, Best Director & Best Picture gone to three different films.

  2. Anything but the overrated La La Land. My vote goes to either Manchester by the Sea or Moonlight. Now those were well directed pictures.

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