Nominees are 'Midnight in Paris,' 'Dragon Tattoo,' 'Artist,' 'Descendants,' 'Hugo'

The final piece of the pre-Oscar puzzle fell into place with Monday’s Directors Guild of America award nominations.

After a season of murkiness and speculation, the DGA – which tapped Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris,” David Fincher for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” Michel Hazanavicius for “The Artist,” Alexander Payne for “The Descendants” and Martin Scorsese for “Hugo” – was the final major guild to announce before Oscar noms and is considered a reliable predictor for how the Academy will vote.

In fact, the awards of the three major guilds – the Screen Actors Guild, the Producers Guild of America and the DGA – corrolate with the high-profile picture, directing and acting Oscar categories and are considered good bellwethers because of the overlap in membership with the Academy.

Among the DGA nominees, three out of the five have received noms from all three guilds. Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” Payne’s “Descendants” and Hazanavicius’s “Artist” have SAG ensemble and PGA noms, which points to likely Academy Award noms. Neither Scorsese’s “Hugo” nor Fincher’s “Dragon Tattoo” received any SAG noms, though both were recognized by the PGA.

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

DGA film nom is the eighth for Scorsese, the fifth for Allen, the third for Fincher, the second for Payne and the first for Hazanavicius – and the Hazanavicius bid also marks the first time that a silent film has been nommed for the DGA trophy.

The winner of the DGA Award has matched the Oscar winner in all but six years since 1948, including last year, when Tom Hooper took both trophies for “The King’s Speech.” The last divergence came in 2002, when Rob Marshall won the DGA Award for “Chicago” and Roman Polanski received the Academy Award for “The Pianist.”

The DGA nominations have matched the Oscar noms about 80% of the time. Last year the DGA tapped Hooper and Fincher along with Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”), Christopher Nolan (“Inception”) and David O. Russell (“The Fighter”) while the Oscar noms went to Aronofsky, Fincher, Hooper and Russell along with Joel and Ethan Coen for “True Grit.”

Fincher’s nomination for “Dragon Tattoo” was by far the biggest surprise of the quintet. He received a nom last year for “The Social Network” and in 2008 for the “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and won the DGA commercial award in 2003.

The DGA nominees matched four of the five tapped for the Golden Globes. The exception was Fincher; the fifth Globe nom went to George Clooney for “Ides of March.”

Other notable exclusions from the DGA list included Stephen Daldry for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Bennett Miller for “Moneyball,” Terrence Malick for “The Tree of Life,” Steven Spielberg for “Tintin” and “War Horse” and Tate Taylor for “The Help.” Spielberg’s received 10 DGA nominations and has won three times.

“Dragon Tattoo” has seen the most success at the box office among the five DGA nominees with $77 million domestically, followed by “Midnight in Paris” at $56 million, “Hugo” at $53 million, “The Descendants” at $43 million and “The Artist” at $7 million.

And the nominees are:

Woody Allen
“Midnight in Paris”
(Sony Pictures Classics)
The Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Managers: Matthieu Rubin, Helen Robin
• First Assistant Director: Gil Kenny
• Second Assistant Director: Delphine Bertrand

David Fincher
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
(Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)
The Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Manager: Daniel M. Stillman
• First Assistant Director: Bob Wagner
• Second Assistant Director: Allen Kupetsky
• Production Manager (Sweden Unit): Karolina Heimburg
• Second Assistant Directors (Sweden Unit): Hanna Nilsson, Pontus Klänge
• 2nd Second Assistant Director (Sweden Unit): Niklas Sjöström
• 2nd Second Assistant Director (U.S. Unit): Maileen Williams
• Unit Production Manager (Zurich Unit): Christos Dervenis
• Unit Production Manager (U.K. Unit): Lara Baldwin
• Second Assistant Director (U.K. Unit): Paul Taylor

Michel Hazanavicius
“The Artist”
(The Weinstein Company)
The Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Manager: Antoine De Cazotte
• Production Manager (FR): Ségoléne Fleury
• First Assistant Director (FR): James Canal
• First Assistant Director (US): David Cluck
• Second Assistant Director (US): Dave Paige
• Second Second Assistant Directors: Karla Strum, Ricky Robinson

Alexander Payne
“The Descendants”
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)
The Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Manager: George Parra
• First Assistant Director: Richard L. Fox
• Second Assistant Director: Scott August
• Second Second Assistant Director: Amy Wilkins Bronson

Martin Scorsese
“Hugo”
(Paramount Pictures)
The Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Managers: Charles Newirth, Georgia Kacandes, Angus More Gordon
• First Assistant Director: Chris Surgent
• Second Assistant Director: Richard Graysmark
• Second Assistant Directors: Tom Brewster, Fraser Fennell-Ball
• Production Managers (Paris Unit): Michael Sharp, Gilles Castera
• First Assistant Director (Paris Unit): Ali Cherkaoui

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