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Will DGA preview Oscar lineup for Best Director?

By Paul Sheehan
By Paul Sheehan
Jan 05 2014 11:11 am
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Directors Guild DGA Awards Oscars nominations movies news 13579086

Last year, 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 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).

Usually, there are one or 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 377 members of the directors branch of the academy.

Indeed, in the 65-year history of the DGA Awards, there have only been five instances where they matched (winners of both prizes 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”))

2005: Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”), Bennett Miller (“Capote”), Paul Haggis (“Crash”), George Clooney (“Good Night, and Good Luck”), Steven Spielberg (“Munich”)

2009: James Cameron (“Avatar”), Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”), Quentin Tarantino (“Inglourious Basterds”), Lee Daniels (“Precious”), Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”)

So, of this year's five leading contenders for Best Director at the Oscars, who, if anyone, will be left off the DGA roster that will be announced on Tuesday (Jan. 7)? 

Oscar frontrunner Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity"), who has odds of 19/10, and second place Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave") with odds of 13/5 look like locks with the DGA as well; neither has contended at either kudos for their helming. Third place contender David O. Russell (11/2) -- who was snubbed by the DGA last year -- is likely to reap a DGA bid for "American Hustle." 

Beyond these three -- who all have the backing of at least one of our Oscarologists -- who is likely to be embraced by their guild? 

Paul Greengrass ("Captain Phillips") is ahead of Martin Scorsese ("The Wolf of Wall Street") on our Oscar chart -- 12/1 vs. 16/1 -  because he is ranked higher overall by our collective predictions. However, while Greengrass reaped an Oscar bid for helming "United 93" (2006), he was snubbed by the DGA. Compare that to the DGA track record of Scorsese: seven nominations, one win ("The Departed," 2006) and the lifetime achievement award (2002). 

In sixth place for the Oscar is Alexander Payne ("Nebraska"), who has reaped both DGA and Oscar bids twice before: "Sideways" (2004), "The Descendants" (2011). And in seventh is Spike Jonze ("Her") who contended with both groups for "Being John Malkovich" (1999). Both have odds of 33/1. 

Eighth place goes to Joel and Ethan Coen ("Inside Llewyn Davis") who won the second of their two DGA bids ("No Country for Old Men," 2007) and repeated at the Oscars. Previously, they had been nominated by both kudos for "Fargo" (1996). And they earned an Oscar nod for "True Grit" (2011) after being snubbed by the DGA. They are at 50/1.

Likewise, our ninth place contender -- Woody Allen ("Blue Jasmine") -- has proven more popular with the academy than the guild. He won the first of his DGA and Oscar bids for "Annie Hall" (1977). Since then, he has contended four more times at the DGA, which feted him for lifetime achievement in 1995, but six times as a director at the Oscars. He has odds of 100/1

Recent Oscar nominees who had been snubbed by the DGA include:

2001: David Lynch (“Mulholland Dr.”)

2002: Pedro Almodovar (“Talk to Her”)

2003: Fernando Meirelles (“City of God”)

2004: Mike Leigh (“Vera Drake”)

None of their films were nominated for Best Picture when this category had only five contenders. Compare that to last year's trio of directors who contended at the Oscars but not the DGA -- they all helmed films which numbered among the nine Best Picture nominees.  

And who wins with the DGA? Affleck was the seventh DGA champ who did not go on to repeat at the Academy Awards, following in the path of these Oscar also-rans:

1968: DGA to Anthony Harvey (“The Lion in Winter”), Oscar to Carol Reed (“Oliver!”)

1972: DGA to Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather”), Oscar to Bob Fosse (“Cabaret”)

1985: DGA to Steven Spielberg (“The Color Purple”), Oscar to Sydney Pollack (“Out of Africa”)

1995: DGA to Ron Howard (“Apollo 13”), Oscar to Mel Gibson (“Braveheart”)

2000: DGA to Ang Lee (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”), Oscar to Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic”)

2002: DGA to Rob Marshall (“Chicago”), Oscar to Roman Polanski (“The Pianist”)

Who do you think is going to win Best Director? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu.

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