Today’s eagerly awaited DGA nominations are out and there are no surprises in the bunch. Gravity’s Alfonso 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.
Generally 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. (more…)