David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky among top feature noms

The biggest surprise in Monday’s announcement of DGA nominations was how few surprises there were.

The Directors Guild, which often throws a few curveballs into the kudos race, was consistent with nominations by other bodies to date. The Directors Guild nominees — Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”), David Fincher (“The Social Network”), Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”), Christopher Nolan (“Inception”) and David O. Russell (“The Fighter”) — will all see their films saluted by AFI this Friday, and this is the same five who will be competing Sunday for the Golden Globe helming prize.

The DGA’s anointed five on Monday were celebrating recognition by their peers. However, the

roster doesn’t necessarily provide an Oscar blueprint: Since 1970, there have been only a handful of times when the Directors Guild noms were identical to Oscar’s quintet.

If there were any surprises in a year crowded with good work, it’s in the helmers who didn’t make the final cut. That list includes some directors competing this Friday for the Critics Choice awards (Danny Boyle for “127 Hours” and Joel & Ethan Coen for “True Grit”) as well as Ben Affleck for “The Town,” Lisa Cholodenko for “The Kids Are All Right,” Debra Granik for “Winter’s Bone” and Roman Polanski for “The Ghost Writer.”

Without a DGA nom for “True Grit,” “Unforgiven” would stand as the sole Western to win in the guild award’s 63-year history.

The DGA award is seen as a fairly reliable bellwether of Oscar’s best-director race — the same helmer has won both races in all but six years since 1948 (Kathryn Bigelow won both trophies for “The Hurt Locker” last year) — but there have been deviations, most recently in 2002, when the guild trophy went to Rob Marshall for “Chicago” but the Academy gave its directing honor to Roman Polanski for “The Pianist.”

Only once has a director won the DGA award and not been Oscar-nommed — that was 1995, when Ron Howard was honored by the guild for “Apollo 13″ but passed over by the Academy.

DGA president Taylor Hackford announced the guild’s nomination choices on Monday. Kudos, based on voting by the 14,500 DGA members, will be presented Jan. 29 in ceremonies at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.

“When Taylor Hackford called me this morning I have to admit I started to cry,” Russell said. “I am so humbled because it is such a talented field this year, I had prepared myself to not be part of it. To be recognized by my peers, moves me beyond words with gratitude and humility.”

The DGA feature nomination was the first for Aronofsky, Hooper and Russell. Fincher was previously nominated for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and Nolan for “The Dark Knight” and “Memento.”

“I am very grateful to the Directors Guild of Americas for recognizing ‘The Social Network’ and extremely proud of my collaborators for their hard work and talent,” Fincher said Monday. “I’m honored to be included in a group of filmmakers I so admire.”

Fincher has already won trophies for “The Social Network” from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, the Online Film Critics Society and the National Board of Review. He won the DGA’s commercial award in 2003.

The directors branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has 367 members, or about 6% of the total membership of 5,575. Oscar noms will be announced Jan. 25.

The DGA was set to announce its TV nominees today and its documentary nods on Wednesday.

And the nominees are:

Darren Aronofsky – “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Jennifer Roth
First Assistant Director: Joseph Reidy
Second Assistant Director: Amy Lauritsen
Second Second Assistant Director: Travis Rehwaldt
Location Manager: Ronnie Kupferwasser

David Fincher – “The Social Network” (Columbia Pictures)
Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: JoAnn Perritano
First Assistant Director: Bob Wagner
Second Assistant Director: Allen Kupetsky
Second Second Assistant Director: Maileen Williams

Tom Hooper – “The King’s Speech” (The Weinstein Co.)
Directorial Team:
Production Manager: Erica Bensly
First Assistant Director: Martin Harrison
Second Assistant Director: Chris Stoaling

Christopher Nolan – “Inception” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Jan Foster
First Assistant Director: Nilo Otero
Second Assistant Director: Brandon Lambdin
Second Second Assistant Director: Greg Pawlik
Additional Second Assistant Director: Lauren Pasternack

David O. Russell – “The Fighter” (Paramount Pictures and The Weinstein Co.)
Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Mark Kamine
First Assistant Director: Michele Ziegler
Second Assistant Director: Xanthus Valan
Second Second Assistant Director: Timothy Blockburger

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