The 73rd Directors Guild of America Awards nominees are historic. Two female helmers number among the five nominees for Best Director: Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) and Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland”), the Chinese filmmaker who is the first female Asian director to be cited. Zhao isn’t the only Asian director who earned a nomination. Korean-American Lee Isaac Chung also reaped a bid for his semi-autobiographical “Minari. Rounding out the list of nominees are David Fincher for “Mank” and Aaron Sorkin for “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”).
How well do you know your Directors Guild of America Awards trivia? Keep reading for 25 fun facts and figures about the DGA Awards.
Prior to Zhao and Fennell, the last woman to earn a DGA nomination was Greta Gerwig for 2017’s “Lady Bird.” Lina Wertmuller was the first female nominee for 1976’s “Seven Beauties” (the Italian filmmaker was also the first woman to be nominated for an Oscar in the category). She was followed a decade later by Randa Haines for “Children of a Lesser God.” Haines was overlooked, though, for an Oscar.
Barbra Streisand, who was the first woman to win the Golden Globe for best director for 1983’s “Yentl,” earned a DGA nomination for her acclaimed 1991 drama “The Prince of Tides” but was snubbed by the directors branch of the academy. Two years later, Jane Campion was nominated by the DGA for “The Piano” and did contend at the Oscars as well.
In 2003, Sofia Coppola earned both a DGA and Oscar nomination for “Lost in Translation.” Her father Francis Ford Coppola won the DGA award for 1972’s “The Godfather” and 1974’s “The Godfather Part 11.” He lost the Oscar for “The Godfather” to Bob Fosse for “Cabaret,” but won the Academy Award for the sequel.
Kathryn Bigelow made both DGA and Oscar history becoming the first woman to win the awards for 2009’s “The Hurt Locker.” Though she earned another DGA nomination for 2012’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” she failed to earn a place in the Oscar roster for Best Director.
No African-American filmmakers has won the DGA or Oscar for Best Director. John Singleton was the first African American director to reap an Oscar bid for Best Director for 1991’s “Boyz n the Hood”; he lost to Jonathan Demme for “The Silence of the Lambs.” But it wasn’t until the 62nd annual DGA Awards that an African American was nominated: Lee Daniels for “Precious.” He went on to earn Oscar nominations for director and picture.
Though no African American filmmakers made the best feature director list this year, two black female directors were nominated in the first-time director list: Radha Blank for “The Forty-Year-Old Version” and Regina King for “One Night in Miami.”
“Mank” chronicles Oscar-winning screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’ struggle to write the screenplay of Orson Welles’ 1941 “Citizen Kane.” Mank’s brother, writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, won the first DGA award for 1949’s “Letter to Three Wives” and the third for 1950’s “All About Eve”- he also won the Oscars for helming these classics Mankiewicz was also nominated for 1952’s “Five Fingers” and 1953’s “Julius Caesar.” Later in his career, he was the recipient of two honorary DGA awards.
Ang Lee won the DGA Award for 2000’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”(the Oscar went to Steven Soderbergh for “Traffic”) and 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain,” but who was the first Asian director to receive a nomination? Akira Kurosawa earned a nomination at the 5th annual DGA Awards for his early masterpiece “Rashomon,” which opened in Japan in 1950 and arrived stateside in late 1951. It was his only competitive DGA Award nomination. The legendary Japanese filmmaker received only one competitive Oscar nomination for Best Director for 1985’s “Ran.” He was given an honorary Oscar at the 1990 ceremony.
The first Latino to earn a DGA nomination for best director was Oscar-winning actor Jose Ferrer (“Cyrano de Bergerac”) for his 1956 noir “The Great Man,” which was supposedly loosely based on the career of Arthur Godfrey. The Puerto Rican actor/director also made Oscar history when he became the first Latino to win an acting Oscar for 1950’s “Cyrano,” for which he also won the Tony. Though he won three Tonys for directing on Broadway, he was never nominated for a directing Oscar.
Over the past decade, three Mexican filmmakers have won the DGA Award for feature film: Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity,” “Roma”), Alejandro G. Inarritu (“Birdman,” “The Revenant”) and Guillermo Del Toro (“The Shape of Things’). All three went on to win Oscars in the category.
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris were dual DGA nominees for 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine.” Though the comedy was nominated for several Oscars including best film and earned Alan Arkin a best supporting actor, the duo didn’t reap an Oscar bid.
Though the nomination list has been whittled down to five, in the early years of the DGA award, there were multiple contenders. The high point? There were 19 nominees for the 14th annual awards. Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins became the first dual winners for the honor for “West Side Story” but they had stiff competition from Marlon Brando (“One-Eyed Jacks”); Frank Capra (“Pocketful of Miracles”); Jack Clayton (“The Innocents’); Peter Glenville (“Summer and Smoke”); John Huston (“The Misfits’); Elia Kazan (“Splendor in the Grass”); Henry Koster (“Flower Drum Song”); Stanley Kramer (“Judgment at Nuremberg); Phillip Leacock (“Hand in Hand”); Mervyn LeRoy (“A Majority of One”); Josh Logan (“Fanny”); Anthony Mann (“El Cid); Robert Mulligan (“The Great Imposter”); Daniel Petrie (“A Raisin in the Sun”); Robert Stevenson (“The Absent-Minded Professor”); Peter Ustinov (“Romanoff and Juliet”) and William Wyler (“The Children’s Hour”)
The DGA feature film award is one of the main bellwethers for Oscar gold. Since the awards’ inception the guild and the academy have only disagreed eight times beginning 52 years ago when Anthony Harvey won the DGA for “The Lion in Winter” and Carol Reed won the Academy Award for “Oliver!” Last year, Sam Mendes won the DGA for “1917” while Bong Joon Ho received the Oscar for “Parasite.”
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