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Fresh faces for DGA nominations

Scorsese is the sole returning nominee

See Nominees

Newcomer nominees will be competing with seven-time contender Martin Scorsese for the Directors Guild of America’s top film prize.

For the org’s feature directing award, DGA members have nominated Bill Condon for “Dreamgirls,” Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris for “Little Miss Sunshine,” Stephen Frears for “The Queen,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for “Babel” and Scorsese for “The Departed.” (Frears received a telepic nod for “Fail Safe” in 2000.)

Although the Oscar race always offers a few surprises, the DGA quintet exactly matches the five films nominated for best pic last week by the Producers Guild of America. And four of the five — “Babel,” “The Departed,” “Dreamgirls” and “Little Miss Sunshine” — received SAG nominations for ensemble cast.

Among the high-profile contenders excluded by the DGA were Clint Eastwood (“Letters From Iwo Jima” and “Flags of Our Fathers”), Paul Greengrass (“United 93”), Alfonso Cuaron (“Children of Men”), Todd Field (“Little Children”), Pedro Almodovar (“Volver”) and Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”). Eastwood won the DGA award and the Oscar two years ago for “Million Dollar Baby.”

Condon told Daily Variety the support among DGA members for “Dreamgirls” probably stemmed from a recognition of the intricacies of directing a musical.

“It is such a large enterprise and you have to prep for a year,” he said. “You wind up having to make the movie before you start shooting.”

Frears, speaking from Vienna, where he was helping promote Miramax’s “The Queen,” said the pic’s attention to detail appeared to be paying off.

“The real challenge on this was simply taking a deep breath and doing it, because it really is a very cheeky film to make since you’re dealing with such a well-known history,” he said.

Scorsese, who received his first DGA nom three decades ago for “Taxi Driver” and most recently was nominated for “The Aviator,” said in a statement, “It is a great honor to receive this recognition from my fellow filmmakers. As with all films, the making of ‘The Departed’ was a group effort, and the opportunity to work alongside its talented cast and crew was a reward in itself. But I am very grateful for the DGA’s nomination, which recognizes the contribution of not just myself but my entire directing team.”

Scorsese has not won a DGA kudo, but he was given a Life Achievement Award in 2003.

Guild president Michael Apted made the announcement Tuesday morning at guild headquarters in Hollywood. The winner, to be decided by voting among the 13,400 members, will be announced Feb. 3 in ceremonies at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

Apted said the selections reflect the wide-open nature of this year’s awards race, with no clear front-runner emerging.

“I think it makes it very exciting because it could be anyone,” he said. “I found it very difficult voting this year, because I sat down and made a list and found that there were 10 films I wanted to vote for.”

The DGA winner and the Oscar winner for director have matched in 52 of the last 58 years, including last year, when Ang Lee won both trophies for “Brokeback Mountain.”

The nominees were chosen by DGA members from a ballot of more than 400 eligible films with a theatrical release in 2006.

Among the nominated films, Warner’s “The Departed” is the top domestic grosser with $121 million, followed by Fox Searchlight’s “Little Miss Sunshine” with $59 million, Paramount’s “Dreamgirls” with $54 million, Miramax’s “The Queen” with $30 million and Paramount Vantage’s “Babel” with $21 million.

The “Dreamgirls” nomination came three weeks after the DGA rescinded its permission for Paramount to send out screeners of the musical and banned all such mailing for this season due to confusion over its policy. The guild will allow screeners next awards season.

Among the nominees, Condon’s the sole Oscar winner, taking home a screenplay trophy for 1998’s “Gods and Monsters.” The husband-wife team of Dayton and Faris made their feature directorial debut on “Little Miss Sunshine.”

The DGA will announce its TV nominations today and Thursday.

And the nominees are…

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Babel” (Paramount Vantage)
Unit Production Manager: Ann Ruark
First Assistant Director: Sebastián Silva

Bill Condon, “Dreamgirls” (Paramount)
Unit Production Manager: Patricia Whitcher
First Assistant Director: Richard Graves
Second Assistant Director: Eric Sherman
Second Second Assistant Director: Renee Hill-Sweet

Martin Scorsese, “The Departed” (Warner Bros.)
Unit Production Manager: Carol Cuddy
First Assistant Director: Joseph Reidy
Second Assistant Director: Amy Lauritsen
Second Second Assistant Director: John Silvestri

Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, “Little Miss Sunshine” (Fox Searchlight)
Unit Production Manager: Michael Beugg
First Assistant Director: Thomas Patrick Smith
Second Assistant Director: Gregory Smith
Second Second Assistant Director: Kate Greenberg

Stephen Frears, “The Queen” (Miramax)
Production Manager: Sue Claverly
First Assistant Director: Stuart Renfrew
Second Assistant Director: Rickay Graysmark
Third Assistant Director: Lucy Egerton

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