George Miller, Ridley Scott, Alejandro G. Iñárritu among 2016 DGA Award nominees

First-Time Filmmaker Award brings some pleasant surprises
"Mad Max: Fury Road"

The Director’s Guild of America announced the film nominations for the 2016 DGA Awards and, shockingly, the surprise was that there were no surprises. In a year where every guild announcement has flipped the Oscar race over its head the five nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Feature Film was somewhat expected. They are as follows:

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “The Revenant”

Adam McKay, “The Big Short”

George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

Ridley Scott, “The Martian”

McKay’s late inclusion into the race likely nullified the chances of Todd Haynes making the cut for “Carol” or Steven Spielberg earning a nod for “Bridge of Spies.” At this point in his career it’s somewhat disheartening that Haynes has never earned a DGA nomination and his chances at Oscar recognition may be fading. Spielberg, on the other hand, has been the most nominated filmmaker ever and was last recognized in 2013 for “Lincoln.” The question now is whether he can jump any of the DGA players to earn yet another Oscar nomination. Considering how much love “Bridge” has earned from other Guilds this season it seems very possible.

When gauging the significance of the DGA Award honor in comparison to the equivalent Academy Award category it’s important to realize is that the last time they matched was in 2011. Before then it was in 2006 and 2000. The Director’s branch of the Academy is a very different beast. Sometimes they can vote more artistically (nominating Pedro Almodovar for “Talk to Her” for instance) and another year they can trend more traditional (Clint Eastwood for “American Sniper” 12 months ago). That being said, the chances of these five being your Oscar nominated directors are statistically very slim and the safe bet would be that Spielberg (or even Haynes) knock Miller or possibly even Scott from contention when Oscar nominations are announced early Thursday morning.

The DGA also announced the inaugural class for the Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Filmmaker honor. This award was announced by Spielberg at last year’s DGA Awards ceremony and is a smart move for to bring more diversity and fresh faces to their guild. The nominees are:

Fernando Coimbra, “A Wolf at the Door”

Joel Edgerton, “The Gift”

Alex Garland, “Ex Machina”

Marielle Heller, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”

László Nemes, “Son of Saul”

While you could easily argue that Nemes should have been a player for the top honor in other years this is exciting recognition for Edgerton and Heller especially. “The Gift” has not received even the sort of minor awards recognition it deserved this season and any love for Heller and “Diary” proves the love for the Sundance drama is spreading beyond it’s limited theatrical run this past summer.

The DGA Award winners will be handed out on February 6, 2016 in Beverly Hills.

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With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios, has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times and co-founded HitFix, Inc. serving as its first Editor-in-Chief and President. Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.

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