The big news is that The Big Short director Adam McKay is among the final five for Best Director from the DGA. The man who gave us Talladega Nights and The Other Guys finally turned out a film that earned genuine critical plaudits and has become a major force in this year’s Oscar competition. Tom McCarthy made it in when many thought his support was soft. The one director to take the biggest hit here is Todd Haynes. All season, American critics were giving Carol solid support, but the guilds seemed modestly disinterested. With its omission here, it seems implausible that the BAFTA selections will carry over to the Oscars.
The documentary direction nominations will be announced tomorrow, but the Best First Feature nominees are included below. The list features the two directors everyone would have expected to be here, Alex Garland and Laszlo Nemes, but all but Fernando Coimbra are unsurprising and Coimbra’s presence is just unexpected, not really surprising.
As for Best Director Oscar history: Last year, Bennett Miller took Clint Eastwood’s spot at the Oscars. In 2013, DGA nominee Paul Greengrass was replaced by Alexander Payne. 2012 was the last bizarre cross-over with only Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee making the Oscar list. The prior year, things were back to normal with Terrence Malick earning an Oscar nomination over David Fincher.
On the Best Picture front, things are a bit different. Since 2009, the Academy has nominated more than 5 films for Best Picture. In that time, only one film has not been nominated for Best Picture after earning a Best Director citation from the DGA. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which most thought to be a sure contender for a nomination in 2011 failed to place at the Oscars. That’s the only one. That means that these five films have pretty much been assured a placement at the Oscars (much to some people’s chagrin).
Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott – The Martian
Best First Feature
Alex Garland – Ex Machina
Laszlo Nemes – Son of Saul
Joel Edgerton – The Gift
Marielle Heller – The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Fernando Coimbra – A Wolf at the Door
Directors Guild of America Data
Year Founded: 1936
First Awards: 1948 (68)