Todd Field and Cate Blanchett for “Tar”. Photo by Matt Licari/Invision/AP
The Directors Guild of America released their nominations yesterday. In their main Oscar-correlative prize they hewed very close to what is seen as the “top five” for Oscar’s Best Picture race. Historically speaking, in a counter-intuitive twist, the DGA nominations each year have a closer correlation to eventual Best Picture nominations than the Best Director shortlist. That was of course easier to notice before the new world of the “Expanded Best Picture” lineup of the past 14 years. The exception to this general principle of ‘if it’s up for the DGA it’ll be up for Best Picture’ certainty is the nomination for Todd Field for TÁR. While the film has a great shot at making the 10 wide Best Picture list, it’s not generally considered one of the top five contenders and could theoretically be snubbed still, given that more than 10 films still seem plausible as contenders. As a result Field is looking very strong in Best Director as the Academy votes on their nominations this week…
OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR, THEATRICAL FEATURE
Todd Field (1st nomination) TÁR
Joseph Kosinski (1st nomination) Top Gun Maverick
Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert (1st nomination) Everything Everywhere All At Once
Martin McDonagh (2nd nomination) The Banshees of Inisherin
Steven Spielberg (13th nomination / 3 wins / 1 Lifetime Achievement Award) The Fabelmans
While Todd Field has 3 Oscar nominations under his belt (2 for Adapted Screenplay, 1 for Picture) he has yet to be nominated for direction. TÁR could well change that. Likewise Martin McDonagh has been up for 4 Oscars (winning for Short Film) but he has yet to score as a Director despite receiving a previous DGA nod (for Three Billboards). If McDonagh is nominated for the Oscar in this category, he’ll only be the second Best Live Action Short Film winner to ever “graduate” to a Best Director nod; the only previous person to do it is Taylor Hackford who won for Teenage Father (1978) before his Oscar nomination for directing Ray (2004)
Though there are anomalous years like the chaos of 2012 when only TWO directing guild nominees landed Oscar noms, most years line up 4/5 so it’s likely that only one of them is vulnerable come Oscar nomination morning. But which one. It’s not always the one you think that gets the drop.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR, FIRST TIME FEATURE
Alice Diop, Saint Omer
Audrey Diwan, Happening
John Patton Ford, Emily the Criminal
Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic, Murina
Charlotte Wells, Aftersun
It’s immediately noticeable that the list is 80% women (whereas the main category is 100% men) which speaks to how rapidly things have been changing behind the scenes in cinema, with more and more female directors getting work. In other news, it’s been heartening to see the embrace of Happening, more than a year after we first fell in love with it at Venice in 2021. In hindsight it now feels like it could have been a force in Best International Feature Film last season had France submitted it rather than Titane.
Charlotte Wells has been such an awards magnet for “Debut Director” prizes this year that we wouldn’t be completely shocked to see her in the Oscar lineup for Best Director, IF they decide to stray beyond Best Picture contenders.