Diverse crowd for DGA nominations

Guild announces picks for feature film director

The Directors Guild of America showered its love on specialty fare this year, bestowing four out of five 2007 helming noms upon pics released by arthouse arms.

Paramount Vantage and Miramax each netted multiple kudos, with Warners the sole major label honored, courtesy of Tony Gilroy’s helming turn on “Michael Clayton.” Paul Thomas Anderson was feted for Vantage’s “There Will Be Blood” and Sean Penn for “Into the Wild,” another pic from Par’s specialty arm. Vantage also shared bragging rights for “No Country for Old Men,” directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, with Miramax. Julian Schnabel, helmer of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” for Miramax, was honored as well.

All save Joel Coen are first-time DGA nominees; Coen was previously nominated for “Fargo” in 1996. His shared mention with brother Ethan for “No Country for Old Men” reps the fifth time in DGA history that a directing team has received a nomination. Last year, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris received a mention for “Little Miss Sunshine.”

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Guild prexy Michael Apted, who announced the nominations at DGA headquarters, noted that this year’s honorees worked on a diverse group of pics.

“There’s no big studio blockbuster among them, the way ‘The Departed’ was last year,” Apted said. “It’s a very open year.”

The nomination was especially gratifying for Gilroy. The director, a longtime scribe who’s busy prepping his second film for a March start, admits he still hasn’t gotten used to the fact that he’s made the transition to helmer.

“When people ask what I do, I still don’t say I’m a director,” Gilroy said from a World Trade Center penthouse Tuesday afternoon. He said the nominations weren’t even on his radar until the congratulatory calls began pouring in.

Gilroy said the WGA strike cast a slight pall over an otherwise sunny moment in his career. Gilroy wrote “Duplicity,” his next directing project, a Julia Roberts-Clive Owen starrer for Universal.

“I’ve been going from the picket line to pre-production on my film all fall,” Gilroy said. “It’s schizophrenic.”

Schnabel, who was traveling Tuesday, issued a statement calling his nomination “an amazing honor.” A former painter who segued to a career behind the lens, he said he has been inspired by the work of film directors his whole life.

Apted noted the DGA Award has “traditionally been a pretty reliable bellwether” for predicting who will win the Oscar for helming, pointing out that 53 of the past 59 DGA winners “have gone on and done the double.” Last year’s winner, “The Departed,” was the latest to do so.

The winner will be announced Jan. 26 at the guild’s awards dinner and ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

And the nominees are:

  • Paul Thomas Anderson – “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage)
    Unit Production Manager: Daniel Lupi
    First Assistant Director: Adam Somner
    Second Assistant Directors: Eric Lasko, Ian Stone, Richard Oswald Second Second Assistant Director: Jenny Nolan

  • Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax Films and Paramount Vantage)
    Unit Production Manager: Robert J. Graf
    First Assistant Director: Betsy Magruder Second Assistant Director: Bac DeLorme Second Second Assistant Director: Jai James

  • Tony Gilroy – “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
    Unit Production Manager: Christopher Goode First Assistant Director: Steve Apicella
    Second Assistant Director: Michael Pitt
    Second Second Assistant Directors: Matt Power, Jason Ivey

  • Sean Penn – “Into the Wild” (Paramount Vantage)
    Unit Production Manager: John J. Kelly
    First Assistant Director: David Webb
    Second Assistant Director: Dylan Hopkins Second Second Assistant Directors: John R. Saunders, Ian Calip

  • Julian Schnabel – “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax Films)
    Unit Production Managers: Stéphan Guillemet, A.F.R., Jon Kilik First
    Assistant Director: Stéphane Gluck, A.F.A.R.
    Second Assistant Director: Mathilde Cavillan