The Directors Guild of America (DGA) have announced their nominees for the best directorial achievements in film for 2013, and in doing so, have narrowed the field of Best Picture contenders down to five. Those five films would be American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Captain Phillips and The Wolf of Wall Street. All five films saw their directors – David O. Russell, Steve McQueen, Alfonso Cuaron, Paul Greengrass and Martin Scorsese respectively – score pivotal nominations today. Long regarded as the most important of the guilds, at least in terms of predicting the Oscars and gauging industry passion during an awards season, the Directors Guild Award winner has gone on to win the Best Director Oscar all but seven times in the last 65 years.*
While the DGA and Oscar Directing nominees rarely go 5-5 – last year’s DGA winner Ben Affleck (Argo) as well as Katheryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) all missed out on Oscar nominations despite being nominated by the DGA – a film’s chances of winning Best Picture are next to non-existent if their director fails to get a corresponding DGA nomination. In fact, in the DGA’s 66-year history, only two films have won Best Picture without their directors receiving DGA nominations: Hamlet (1948) and Driving Miss Daisy (1989). So in essence, a DGA nomination = Kiss of life for your Oscar Best Picture chances. No nomination = Buh-bye, kiddo! So while filmmakers like Alexander Payne (Nebraska), Spike Jonze (Her) and the Coen brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis) may still surprise with nominations on January 19, their films’ have no chance at winning Best Picture.
The 2013 DGA nominees:
- Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
- Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
- Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
- David O. Russell – American Hustle
- Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
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 seven filmmakers who won the DGA but lost the Best Director Oscar were:
- Anthony Harvey (The Lion in Winter) won the DGA but lost the Oscar to Carol Reed (Oliver!) in 1968.
- Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather) won the DGA but lost the Oscar to Bob Fosse for (Cabaret) in 1972.
- Steven Spielberg (The Color Purple) won the DGA but was shockingly not nominated by the Academy in 1985. The Academy awarded Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa).
- Ron Howard (Apollo 13) won the DGA but, like Spielberg, was also not nominated by the Academy in 1995. The Academy awarded Mel Gibson for (Braveheart).
- Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) won the DGA but lost the Oscar to Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) in 2001.
- Rob Marshall (Chicago) won the DGA but lost the Oscar to Roman Polanski (The Pianist) in 2002.
- And most recently, Ben Affleck (Argo) won the DGA but wasn’t even nominated by the Academy last year. Ang Lee (Life of Pi) won the Oscar instead.