DGA Nominations Include ‘The Revenant,’ ‘Mad Max,’ and ‘The Big Short’
We’re in the middle of an Oscar season that's more unpredictable than ever before, especially following Sunday’s particularly nutty Golden Globes. But in all the unknown, one possible indicator has appeared to (hopefully) make our Academy Awards forecasts a little easier.
The Directors Guild Association announced their five nominees on Tuesday, a list that has long been a strong predictor of who Oscar nominees. Before I get into any analysis, let’s jump straight to the nominees:
Alejandro Iñarittu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott, The Martian
The guild also introduced a new category this year to recognize the best first-time directors. Those nominees include Fernando Coimbra for A Wolf at the Door, Joel Edgerton for The Gift, Alex Garland for Ex Machina, Marielle Heller for The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Laszlo Nemes for Son of Saul. The DGA winners will be announced February 6.
Overall this is one of the least shocking announcements yet this awards season. All five directors have been discussed among pundits as the most likely to get Best Director Oscar nominations, which will be revealed on Thursday. But this list doesn’t come without some major snubs, the most disappointing omission being Todd Haynes for Carol. Up against the (sorta kinda) frontrunner Spotlight, the critically praised Mad Max that continues to build awards steam, Iñarritu, Scott and McKay, I’m not all that surprised Haynes got cut. After all, as beloved and critically lauded as Carol has been, it’s subject matter, a 1950s romance between two women, might be what’s pushing it further back in voter’s minds.
Looking back at DGA and Oscar history, those nominated by the guild are very likely to become our Oscar Best Director nominees and five of our Best Picture nominees. That’s far from a rule though, and there are some notable exceptions. The films that got DGA nominations, but failed to make it into the Best Director category include Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, Ben Affleck’s Best Picture winner Argo and Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty. When it comes to Best Picture, the DGA-nominated films the Academy failed to recognize include The Dark Knight, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Into the Wild. While some of this year's DGA nominees might not make it into the two Oscar categories, all five also got PGA nominations. However, The Big Short and Spotlight were the only two to receive SAG Best Ensemble nominations, hinting that we’re likely to see some surprises enter the Best Picture race if the nominees reach more than five.
What can all of this tell us about potential winners, though? After Iñarritu’s double wins for Director and Best Motion Picture Drama at the Globes, plus the ridiculously devoted campaign for getting Leonardo DiCaprio his Oscar, which seems more fueled by the Internet than 20th Century Fox, it may seem like The Revenant could win big in both categories this year. But since the Mexican filmmaker won for Birdman last year, history shows us it’s incredibly rare to win Best Director back-to-back. In fact it’s only happened twice, by John Ford in 1941 for The Grapes of Wrath and then How Green Was My Valley in '42, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter to Three Wives in 1950 and All About Eve the following year. But then again, maybe Iñarritu’s charm hasn’t run out with the Academy just yet. If so, I've got my fingers crossed for Miller to take home the Best Director gold, if only because we (sadly) won't be seeing any more Mad Max from him.