The Directors Guild of America has announced its nominees for the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film Award for 2012. Those nominees are:
Ben Affleck for “Argo;”
Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty;”
Tom Hooper for “Les Misérables;”
Ang Lee for “Life of Pi;” and
Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln.”
The DGA went for the name brands in a big way this year. Affleck is the only of the nominees to never win an Oscar for directing a feature film, but then, “Argo” is only his third directorial outing. Bigelow won both the DGA award and the Oscar for “The Hurt Locker.” Hooper won both the DGA award and the Oscar for “The King’s Speech.” Ang Lee was nominated for the DGA award for “Sense and Sensibility” and won the DGA award for both “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Brokeback Mountain,” also winning the Oscar for the latter.
With Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg shares the distinction of being one of only six DGA award winners who did not go on to win the Academy Award for that film. When Ang Lee was honored by the DGA for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” the Oscar ultimately went to Steven Soderbergh for “Traffic.” Spielberg won the first of his three DGA awards for “The Color Purple,” but that year (1985) the Oscar went to Sydney Pollack for “Out of Africa.” Spielberg has also won DGA awards for “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan,” winning the Oscar for both.
As to the other exceptions, in 1968 Anthony Harvey won the DGA award for “The Lion in Winter,” but Carroll Reed took home the Oscar for “Oliver!” In 1972, the DGA honored Francis Ford Coppola for “The Godfather,” while Bob Fosse won the Oscar “Cabaret.” Ron Howard took DGA honors in 1995 for “Apollo 13” while Mel Gibson won the Oscar for “Braveheart” (ironically, Howard was directing Gibson in “Ransom” at the time the Academy Awards were announced). Finally, Rob Marshall received the DGA award in 2002 for “Chicago,” only to see the Oscar go to Roman Polanski for “The Pianist,” the only time a musical lost to a drama in this battle of statistical anomalies.
The list of directors who weren’t nominated by the DGA this year is almost more interesting than the ones who were. Wes Anderson was not nominated for his charming “Moonrise Kingdom.” Quentin Tarantino was not nominated for his controversial yet riveting “Django Unchained.” Sam Mendes was not nominated for “Skyfall,” perhaps the best-reviewed James Bond movie in the entire series. Christopher Nolan was not nominated for his “The Dark Knight Rises.” Newcomer Benh Zeitlin was overlooked for the extremely well-reviewed “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” John Madden was likewise overlooked for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and Peter Jackson wasn’t mentioned for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
The DGA Awards will be announced on February 2nd. The ceremony will be hosted by Kelsey Grammer.