Soderbergh lands 2 noms as second-trippers fill list

Cited for both “Traffic” and “Erin Brockovich,” Steven Soderbergh scored a double whammy in the Directors Guild of America nominations Monday, while Cameron Crowe, Ang Lee and Ridley Scott each chalked up a second career nom from the org.

Crowe is nominated for DreamWorks/Columbia’s “Almost Famous,” Lee for Sony Pictures Classics’ “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and Scott for DreamWorks/Universal’s “Gladiator.”

HIGHEST GROSSING DGA NOMS*
Year / Title Director Domestic B.O.**
2000:
Gladiator
Ridley Scott $187,000,000
1999:
The Sixth Sense
M. Night Shyamalan $294,000,000
1998:
Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg $216,000,000
1997:
Titanic
James Cameron $601,000,000
1996:
Jerry Maguire
Cameron Crowe $154,000,000

* (over past five years)
**(to nearest million)

Soderbergh is only the second director in three decades to score two noms in one year; in 1974, Francis Ford Coppola was nominated for “The Conversation” and “The Godfather Part II,” winning for the latter.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Soderbergh said. “It’s extremely gratifying to be recognized by my fellow Guild members.”

Given Soderbergh’s double-play this year, each helmer is now a two-time nominee. Crowe was previously tapped in 1996 for “Jerry Maguire,” Lee in 1995 for “Sense and Sensibility” and Scott in 1991 for “Thelma and Louise.”

“It’s a great, great thing when you get to be a part of this list,” said Crowe, who was notified while filming a birthday-party scene for his upcoming Tom Cruise starrer “Vanilla Sky.” “I love the guys I got nominated with. All their movies seemed very personal in the best possible sense.”

Crowe said reaction to the DGA’s announcement was particularly enthusiastic on the set since many of the cast and crew worked on “Almost Famous.”

The DGA noms are made by a vote of the 12,000 members; the award will be presented March 10 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

Oscar gauge

The DGA has been an impressive indicator of the Academy Award for best director. Since its inception in 1949, the DGA winner has gone to win the best director Oscar in all but four years. This year’s Academy Award ceremonies will take place March 25.

Three-time DGA winner Steven Spielberg made the nominations announcement at DGA headquarters in Los Angeles. DGA prexy Jack Shea said that for the second year in a row, the noms skewed toward relatively young directors.”I’m delighted to see some of the younger people getting in on this,” Shea added. “Each nominee has a distinct style and unique creative vision.”

Shea also dismissed the notion that this year’s field of top films is thin in quality: “I thought there were several other outstanding films this year.”

Notable omissions

Among the high-profile possibilities who didn’t make the cut in the DGA voting are such helmers as Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot”), Lasse Hallstrom (“Chocolat”), Curtis Hanson (“Wonder Boys”) and Robert Zemeckis (“Cast Away”).

Soderbergh was also a double Golden Globes nominee, for U/Col’s “Brockovich” and USA Films’ “Traffic,” but the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. chose Lee as best director at the Sunday night ceremony. Scott and Istvan Szabo (“Sunshine”) were the other nominees.

Soderbergh has been tapped as best director by the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., the New York Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.

“Having my name read by Steven Spielberg was also pretty damned exciting,” Soderbergh said Monday.

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