Today’s eagerly awaited DGA nominations are out and there are no surprises in the bunch. Gravity’s martin scorseseAlfonso Cuaron, Captain Phillips’  Paul Greengrass, 12 Years A Slave’s Steve McQueen, American Hustle’s David O. Russell and The Wolf Of Wall Street‘s Martin Scorsese were all odds-on favorites to make the five — and they did. Some might have questioned Scorsese’s chances since the film has become a lightning rod for controversy and was the last major release of the year, meaning the 15,000-member guild voters would have to see it in time to cast their ballot. But c’mon, he’s Martin Scorsese. There would be no denying this achievement among his fellow directors. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the guild and 10 other nominations with 3 wins in 3 different categories (The Departed in film, Boardwalk Empire in TV and George Harrison: Living In The Material World in documentary). He’s a god to this guild. Greengrass, McQueen and Cuaron are all first-timers here, while Russell was nominated for 2010’s The Fighter. However, Russell was passed over for a nomination last year for Silver Linings Playbook but  went on to receive an Oscar nod for that film anyway.

BenAffleck_DirectorsGuildAward_GettyImagesGenerally there is a strong correlation between the DGA and the Oscars. Only seven times has the winner of the DGA Award not gone on to win the Oscar . But the most recent time, last year, was also among the most infamous: Ben Affleck still went on to win the DGA Best Director award for Argo even after the Academy’s much smaller — and quirkier — Directors Branch threw a monkey wrench into the proceedings and snubbed Affleck in its nominations. Life Of Pi’s Ang Lee went on to win the Oscar after losing to Affleck at the DGA, while Argo took Best Picture. In addition to Lee the only agreement the Academy’s Directors Branch had with the DGA was Steven Spielberg’s nomination for Lincoln. It was one of the worst years ever since the DGA Awards were founded in 1948  in terms of a match-up between the guild’s list and Oscar (which also nominated Behn Zeitlin of Beasts Of The Southern Wild and Amour’s Michael Haneke in addition to Russell). I don’t expect the same thing to happen this year.  This is a very strong lineup that includes all the likely frontrunners to grab an Academy Directorial nod as well. But as we all learned last year Oscar often has surprises up its sleeve. We’ll see.

Among those who might have made the DGA list but didn’t, the most23-american-hustle prominent are Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine, Alexander Payne for Nebraska,  Spike Jonze for Her, Stephen Frears for Philomena, and Joel and Ethan Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis — the latter is having such a terrible run among the guilds this season that it’s getting hard for their PR firm to put a spin on this after also getting blanked by SAG, PGA and WGA voters. Going 0-for-4 with the guilds (which have a strong overlapping membership with the Academy) is not a good sign for any movie with big Oscar aspirations, and Llewyn Davis would seem to have an uphill climb at this point. On the opposite end of that scale, Sony Pictures is sitting pretty. Both their films, American Hustle and Captain Phillips, have now run the captain-phillipstable with key nominations from SAG, PGA, WGA, DGA, Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards. Gravity and 12 Years A Slave are not far behind but missed out at WGA (12 Years was ineligible according that guild’s rules) while Wolf  missed only at SAG which voted early and probably didn’t see the film widely enough. This makes for a hell of a race with several contenders showing really strong bones as we head into the BAFTA nominations late tonight and of course Oscar nominations next week. Winning the DGA Award on January 25th could be more important that ever as far as the momentum factor goes in this wide-open season.

Here is the official list of nominees unveiled this morning:

Los Angeles – Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay today announced the dga__121218230019-200x190five nominees for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2013.

“To be chosen by your peers in a year full of incredibly well-crafted films is the true marker of outstanding directorial achievement,” said Barclay. “The passion and vision of each of the nominees resulted in tremendously diverse films that kept audiences mesmerized. Congratulations to each of the nominees on a job very well done.”

The winner will be named at the 66th Annual DGA Awards Dinner on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. The nominees are (in alphabetical order):

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Mr. Cuarón’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: David Siegel (Arizona Unit)
· First Assistant Directors: Josh Robertson, Stephen Hagen (Arizona Unit)
· Second Assistant Director: Ben Howard

This is Mr. Cuarón’s first DGA Award nomination.

Captain Phillips
(Columbia Pictures)

Mr. Greengrass’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Managers: Todd Lewis, Gregory Goodman
· First Assistant Director: Chris Carreras
· Second Assistant Directors: Nick Shuttleworth, Mark S. Constance

This is Mr. Greengrass’s first DGA Award nomination.

12 Years A Slave
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Mr. McQueen’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: Anthony Katagas
· First Assistant Director: Doug Torres
· Second Assistant Director: James Roque Jr.
· Second Second Assistant Director: Sherman Shelton Jr.
· Additional Second Assistant Director: Nathan Parker

This is Mr. McQueen’s first DGA Award nomination.

American Hustle
(Columbia Pictures)

Mr. Russell’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Managers: Shea Kammer, Mark Kamine
· First Assistant Director: Michele ‘Shelley’ Ziegler
· Second Assistant Director: Xanthus Valan
· Second Second Assistant Director: Jason Fesel
· Location Managers: David Velasco, Guy Efrat (New York Unit)

This is Mr. Russell’s second DGA Award nomination. He was previously nominated in this category for The Fighter in 2010.

The Wolf of Wall Street
(Paramount Pictures)

Mr. Scorsese’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: Richard Baratta
· First Assistant Director: Adam Somner
· Second Assistant Director: Francisco Oritz
· Second Second Assistant Director: Jeremy Marks
· Additional Second Assistant Director: Scott Koche
· Location Manager: Nils Widboom

This is Mr. Scorsese’s eleventh DGA Award nomination. He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film in 2006 for The Departed, and has also been nominated in that category for Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), The Age of Innocence (1993), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004) and Hugo (2011). Mr. Scorsese also won the DGA Award in 2010 for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Television for Boardwalk Empire and he was nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary for George Harrison: Living in the Material World in 2011. In 1999, Mr. Scorsese was presented with the Filmmaker Award at the inaugural DGA Honors Gala, and he was honored with the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.


The winner in the Feature Film category will be announced at the 66th Annual DGA Awards dinner and ceremony on Saturday evening, January 25, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The DGA Awards will be hosted by actor Jane Lynch.

DGA nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television and Commercials will be announced on January 9, 2014. DGA nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentaries will be announced on January 13, 2014. BMW is the Exclusive Automotive Sponsor of the 66th Annual DGA Awards.