DGA Award: One Step Closer

7 Jan

Based on what we know about the correlation between the Academy and the Directors Guild of America award, these five directors may very well be one step closer to an Oscar–or at least an Oscar nod–thanks to today’s announcement of DGA nominees.

Okay, here we go:

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Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)

Alfonso Cuarón, born in Mexico, has arguably achieved greater acclaim in Hollywood and abroad than in his own country. He earned three Ariel nominations (the Mexican Oscar equivalent) for 1991’s Sólo con tu pareja (Love in the Time of Hysteria), but that was a long, long time ago. Since then, he scored an Academy screenwriting nod for Y Tu Mamá También though the film’s reception was much less enthusiastic back home. Additionally, he took an imaginative leap and achieved mainstream success with 2004’s Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, my personal favorite of the enormously lucrative Harry Potter franchise. A few years later, Cuarón dazzled critics with Children of Men, a dystopian thriller adapted from a novel by English mystery writer P.D. James. Now, with Gravity, Cuarón’s appeal is ever-more-international if not out of this world.

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Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)

The inclusion of  England’s Paul Greengrass makes this race interesting. The director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum was up for an Oscar–though not a DGA award–back in the 2006/07 awards season for United 93.  The politically conscious director’s credits also include Bloody Sunday which, like Steve McQueen’s The Hunger, looks at the troubles in Ireland.

Steve McQueen 12 years

Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

London born Steve McQueen is a first-time DGA candidate; likewise, he’s never been in an Academy race though he’s much lauded overseas for The Hunger, about the hunger strike of IRA leader Bobby Sands, and Shame, a look at the world of a sex addict–both of which star Michael Fassbender, who also appears in 12 Years A Slave.

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David O. Russell (American Hustle)

David O. Russell was shunned by the DGA for last year’s Silver Linings Playbook, but the Academy thought otherwise and nominated Russell for both writing and directing the Best Picture contender. On the other hand, Russell competed for both groups’ honors back a few years ago for The Fighter. Now that Russell has guided three performers to Oscar winning glory (Christian Bale and Melissa Leo in The Fighter; Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook), his reputation as an actor’s director is firmly in place, a far cry from some of the legendary on-set skirmishes from a decade ago.

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Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Scorsese is the heavyweight here.  Not only is he a three time DGA winner, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, he boasts an Oscar for 2006’s The Departed. Two years ago, he was nominated by both the Academy and the  DGA for Hugo (in 3-D).  His filmography includes seven Best Director nods (in addition to a handful of screenplay nominations) from the Academy and now nine DGA nominations for feature films.

If Scorsese wins, he’ll have to do it without me. I’ve already seen American Hustle, which plays as though director Russell is trying to out-Scorsese Scorsese (with Christian Bale trying to out-De Niro De Niro). Plus, I saw Wall Street in the 1980s and The Bonfire of the Vanities in 1990, so I feel like I’ve seen all of this already. Plus, and please don’t hate me, but I think that Scorsese and Wolf of Wall Street star Leonardo DiCaprio often bring out the worst in each other. After their last collaboration, the ghastly Shutter Island, I just want to turn away from the screen even during commercials for their latest. Still, a big name such as Scorsese’s might be enough to pull focus from Cuarón and McQueen and their presumed frontrunners.

Meanwhile, Lee Daniels’ The Butler might have peaked too early as the fall’s initial prestige offering.  Still, none of these men–and no women–are lightweights. On the other hand, last year Ben Affleck (Argo), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), and Tom Hooper (Les Misérables) were all nominated for the DGA trophy, yet they were MIA on the Academy’s final ballot though their films were in the Best Picture race, so we could still be in for a few surprises.

Thanks for your consideration….

The Directors Guild of America: http://www.dga.org/awards/annual.aspx

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