Since the Producers Guild of America started giving out prizes 30 years ago, its pick for best pic has gone on to take home the top Academy Award a whopping 21 times, including last year’s double dipper “Green Book.” But while that film’s helmer Peter Farrelly contended at the Directors Guild of America Awards, he was snubbed by the directors branch of the academy. Alfonso Cuaron won with both the DGA and Academy Awards. Cuaron has the dubious distinction of being just the eighth winner of the DGA prize to be denied bragging rights as the director of the Best Picture winner at the Oscars.
This year, Sam Mendes‘ WWI epic was named Best Picture by the PGA. While he is in contention at the DGA, that award is favored to go to Boon Jong Ho for his helming of “Parasite.” Which of these films has the edge to take home Best Picture?
Remember, the PGA uses the same method of voting, the preferential ballot, that the academy adopted for its top award when it expanded the Best Picture roster in 2010. The first six PGA winners of this bigger field of 10 contenders went on to repeat at the Oscars. (The PGA went with “The Big Short” in 2016 while the academy favored “Spotlight” while in 2017 the guild embraced “La La Land” while the Oscar went, eventually, to “Moonlight.”) It aligned again with “The Shape of Water” and “Green Book.”
In the 10 years since the Best Picture ballot doubled in size, the DGA has tapped nine helmers who went on to win Oscars themselves. Five of them were able to boast that they directed the Best Picture winner to boot. The 1oth DGA winner, Ben Affleck, was snubbed by the directors branch of the academy but his film, “Argo,” did take home the top Academy Award.
Besides last year, there are three other instances where the DGA was off as a bellwether for Best Picture. In 2014, Cuaron won for “Gravity” but the Best Picture Oscar went to “12 Years a Slave,” which had tied with it at the PGA. While the PGA had pointed the way in that instance, it was of no help in predicting the Best Picture winner in the other two years when the DGA got it wrong.
In 2016, “The Big Short” won at the PGA, Alejandro G. Inarritu won at both the DGA and Oscars for “The Revenant” but “Spotlight,” which had won Best Ensemble at SAG, was named Best Picture. And in 2017, Damien Chazelle took home both the DGA and Academy Award for directing but his film lost, eventually, to “Moonlight.” The SAG ensemble winner that year was “Hidden Figures.”
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