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2014 DGA nominations announced: Short on surprises, big on impact

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Phase one of the 2013 awards season is now complete as the Director Guild has revealed their nominees. The DGA doesn't have the best conversion rate to Oscars, only matching five times in their 43 year history, which leads to situations like last year. Three 2013 DGA nominees – Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, and most notably Ben Affleck – were snubbed by the Academy for mysterious reasons. So, what fate awaits 2014’s crop of directors?

First, lets take a look at who was honored by their peers with a nomination.

Alfonso CuaronGravity
Paul GreengrassCaptain Phillips
Steve McQueen12 Years a Slave
David O. RussellAmerican Hustle
Martin ScorseseThe Wolf of Wall Street

Going into Tuesday these were the names that most predicted to be singled out, and rather uneventfully that’s what happened. Out of all the guilds so far, the DGA offered the least in terms of surprises, but that does not mean that they are proving any less impactful in the grand scheme of the Oscar race.

It was pretty much a given that Alfonso Cuaron, Steve McQueen and David O. Russell were going to be nominated by the guild. They are now solidified as the top three contenders for best director, and their films are all duking it out for front-runner status in best picture.

That is where things are beginning to shift, however. “12 Years a Slave” has been the front-runner for some time now, but “American Hustle” is the only film out of all the contenders to receive a nomination from every major guild. Does that make it the favorite as of Tuesday? It’s still tough to put anything ahead of “12 Years,” but if “Hustle” can turn a couple of these guild noms into wins, watch out.

Also seemingly locking up a best director nomination is Paul Greengrass. The “Captain Phillips” director has been consistently represented on the awards circuit. Much like his film, it seems that he has silently cemented his place as a top five contender.

If any of the nominees cited by the DGA are going to fall it will likely be Martin Scorsese. “The Wolf of Wall Street” has proved endlessly divisive among industry people, and if the Academy leans more in the negative camp the film could end up surprisingly underrepresented on nominations morning next Thursday. Directors like Alexander Payne or Spike Jonze could easily slid in for films that have more universal praise.

The DGA also perhaps offered the final nail in the coffin of “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The Coen brothers’ latest received zero nominations from SAG, PGA, WGA and now the DGA, making what once looked like a surefire best picture nominee into perhaps the year’s biggest also ran. Miracles can happen, and if the music branch of the Academy stands up for the folk centered film if could end up in the final group of best picture noms, but things are looking bleak for the similarly styled film.

The DGA will announce their winners on Jan. 25.

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