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January 11, 2016 at 3:20 pm #208296
The Directors Guild of America will announce the inaugural nominees for the First-Time Feature Film Award tomorrow. DGA board members approved this new category in October 2014 and Steven Spielberg announced it at the February 2015 award ceremony.
Because some DGA voters belong to the Oscars’ directing branch, this may give newcomers the boost that they need to clinch an Oscar nomination. Consider Damien Chazelle, director of last year’s Best Picture nominee Whiplash, which won three Oscars and earned Chazelle a nomination for screenwriting. He must have been close to an Oscar nomination for Best Director, especially since he was a nominee in the equivalent BAFTA category. A First-Time DGA Award ballot would have increased his name recognition and gotten directors used to voting for him.
The academy is no stranger to nominating directorial debuts and has even awarded them, Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1999) being the latest example, but years tend to pass between nominations. Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild, 2012) and Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, 2007) received the most recent citations.
The likeliest beneficiary this year is László Nemes, who is the only first-time director ever to have his film in the main competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Son of Saul received the Grand Prix runner-up award and is favored to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Nemes himself ranks sixteenth on Gold Derby for a Best Director nomination.
Further down the list of directing contenders is fellow first-timer Alex Garland, who received three BAFTA nominations this week for writing and directing Ex Machina. That film overcame hundred-to-one odds on Tuesday to earn a Best Picture nomination from the Producers Guild, often considered the strongest predictor of Best Picture at the Oscars. No PGA nominated-film has ever been shut out by the Oscars and Ex Machina has surged in the Best Original Screenplay race; Garland is now favored to score the film’s sole Oscar nomination there.
Other DGA First-Time contenders include Joel Edgerton (The Gift starring Jason Bateman), Deniz Gamze Ergüven (French Oscar submission Mustang), Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl starring Kristen Wiig), John Maclean (Slow West starring Michael Fassbender), John Magary (The Mend starring Josh Lucas), Josh Mond (James White starring Cynthia Nixon), Naji Abu Nowar (Jordanian Oscar submission Theeb), Miroslav Slaboshpitsky (Ukrainian Cannes selection The Tribe) and S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk starring Richard Jenkins).January 11, 2016 at 3:25 pm #208298
Who do you think will be nominated this year and who do you think would have been nominated in past years? Will we see more first-time directors at the Oscars now? I am unclear on the eligibility of foreign films; I predict The Diary of a Teenage Girl, winner Ex Machina, The Gift, Mustang and Son of Saul.January 11, 2016 at 3:50 pm #208299
Dan Gilroy would’ve won last year for Nightcrawler.January 11, 2016 at 4:04 pm #208300
I’d like to see Bone Tomahawk and The Gift nominated.January 11, 2016 at 4:13 pm #208301
Does this also mean that debut directors can’t get nominated in the main category?January 11, 2016 at 4:32 pm #208302
Great idea. They should have invented this before.
I don’t think they are aware of the existence of foreign movies aside from Son of Saul.January 11, 2016 at 4:35 pm #208303
Very cool and encouraging news.January 11, 2016 at 9:17 pm #208304
Awesome!January 12, 2016 at 7:57 am #208306
I’m expecting nominations for:
Joel Edgerton – The Gift
Alex Garland – Ex Machina
Marielle Heller – Diary of a Teenage Girl
Laszlo Nemes – Son of Saul
Bill Pohlad – Love & MercyJanuary 12, 2016 at 10:24 am #208307
FIRST-TIME FEATURE FILM DIRECTOR NOMINEES
A Wolf at the Door
Mr. Coimbra’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Clara Machado
First Assistant Director: Suzy Milstein
Second Assistant Director: Raquel Toledo
This is Mr. Coimbra’s first DGA Award nomination.
Mr. Edgerton’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Luc Etienne
First Assistant Director: Michael J. Moore
Second Assistant Director: Matt Haggerty
Second Second Assistant Director: Dillon Neaman
This is Mr. Edgerton’s first DGA Award nomination.
Mr. Garland’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Sara Desmond
First Assistant Director: Nick Heckstallâ€‘Smith
Second Assistant Director: Ray Kenny
This is Mr. Garland’s first DGA Award nomination.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
(Sony Pictures Classics)
Ms. Heller’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Molly Salz
First Assistant Director: Brian Benson
Second Assistant Director: Jerremy Stewart
Second Second Assistant Director: Alex Gilbert
This is Ms. Heller’s first DGA Award nomination.
Son of Saul
(Sony Pictures Classics)
Mr. Nemes’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Gábor Szántó
First Assistant Director: István Kolos
Second Assistant Directors: Zoltán Gyovai, Edina Galgócz
This is Mr. Nemes’s first DGA Award nomination.
Eligible directors for this award must have released his or her first feature-length film theatrically in Los Angeles or New York in 2015. Foreign films are eligible and the director does not need to be a DGA member.January 12, 2016 at 10:25 am #208308
Fernando Coimbra A WOLF AT THE DOOR
Joel Edgerton THE GIFT
Alex Garland EX MACHINA
Marielle Heller THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL
Laszlo Nemes SON OF SAULJanuary 12, 2016 at 10:57 am #208309
benutty and I predicted the same four nominees. The fifth is not even among the eleven possible contenders that I named. A Wolf at the Door is a Brazilian film that premiered at festivals in 2013 and was not selected as foreign-language submission to the Oscars. It has only 67 on Metacritic and was not nominated by a single American critics’ award; however, it did sweep what appear to be the Brazilian equivalent of the Oscars over the Oscar submission. So there are a ton of Brazilians in the DGA?
This is good news for Son of Saul over Mustang at the Oscars.
Love & Mercy was Bill Pohlad’s second feature film.
Very happy to see The Gift in here. Unlike the other contenders that I named, it was not nominated in a debut filmmaker category by a critics’ association, but I figured that the box office would carry it, since it actually had some.January 12, 2016 at 1:53 pm #208310
So happy to see Edgerton and Garland on this list! Both films were excellent, and I especially loved The Gift. It’s a shame that it’s been so under recognized overall.January 12, 2016 at 4:17 pm #208311
Really happy Heller got in. Everyone please see Diary of a Teenage Girl when it comes to DVD in a few weeks. It’s such an impressive piece of work especially from a first time director. But I think this will be Garland vs Nemes