The Directors Guild of America is largely considered the top Oscar season barometer. Only twice has a film won the Academy Award for best picture without a nomination from this group: Laurence Olivier’s “Hamlet” in 1948 and Bruce Beresford’s “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989.
So with those statistics in tow, and with this year’s DGA nominees finally revealed, you’d be safe to assume the current best picture race has boiled down to five films: “BlacKkKlansman,” “Green Book,” “Roma,” “A Star Is Born,” and “Vice.” But only one of them, it should be noted, has a perfect record with nominations from every industry guild/group that has announce so far, and that’s Golden Globe casualty “A Star Is Born.”
A year after Greta Gerwig became just the ninth woman to receive a DGA nod, things went back to the status quo on that front this year. There were contenders, such as Debra Granik (“Leave No Trace”), Marielle Heller (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), Tamara Jenkins (“Private Life”), Karyn Kusama (“Destroyer”), Mimi Leder (“On the Basis of Sex”), Lynne Ramsay (“You Were Never Really Here”), Josie Rourke (“Mary Queen of Scots”) and Chloe Zhao (“The Rider”), but none was recognized. Rourke was also passed over in the guild’s first-time feature category.
The field of debut filmmakers included Cooper, Bo Burnham (“Eighth Grade”), Carlós Lopez Estrada (“Blindspotting”), Matthew Heineman (“A Private War”) and Boots Riley (“Sorry to Bother You”). “Blindspotting,” in particular, has been met with consistent disappointment on the awards circuit this season, after launching at Sundance to a warm reception nearly a year ago. But it finally received some love here.
The DGA’s lineup matched the Golden Globes’ 100%. The same quintet — plus “The Favourite” and “First Man” helmers Yorgos Lanthimos and Damien Chazelle, respectively — were also nominated by the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.’s Critics’ Choice Awards. Other filmmakers remain in the conversation despite being ignored today, however, including Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), John Krasinski (“A Quiet Place”), Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War”).
The Motion Picture Academy’s directors branch is a much smaller group than the vast DGA. It’s a fraction, really, so sometimes populist favorites can fall out there in favor of more esoteric entries. Recent examples include Paul Thomas Anderson (“Phantom Thread”), Lenny Abrahamson (“Room”), Bennett Miller (“Foxcatcher”), Alexander Payne (“Nebraska”), and Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”).
So to the overlooked, fear not. Things are clearing up, but the race is far from over.