2020 Precursor Predictions: Directors Guild

The DGA is not only one of the best predictors of the Best Directing Oscar, they can also do well in Best Picture, since the two categories are often linked…at least they used to be.


Best Director

Lee Isaac Chung – Minari (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp)
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (RU:Thomas)
David Fincher – Mank
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, Thomas)

Wesley Lovell: This award is Chloé Zhao’s to lose. The only genuinely consistent thing all precursor season has been Zhao’s dominance of the Best Director race and if the Directors Guild of America goes a different way, then we might have a strange change in sea tide going on. Ultimately, though, I think that result is unlikely. And considering how many think that whether or not Nomadland wins Best Picture, it will take the Best Directing prize, it would be a surprise for anyone else to win.
Peter J. Patrick: It would be a major shock for anyone other than Chloé Zhao to take this for her passion project, Nomadland. There won’t be an upset, but if there were one, I would expect it to be in favor of Lee Isaac Chung for his equally passionate immigrant drama, Minari.
Tripp Burton: I’m so confident that Zhao is winning here again that I couldn’t even figure out who might be in second. Her domination over the season should continue here.
Thomas LaTourette: It is hard to imagine anyone but Zhao winning here. She has dominated the precursors and this will be another major award on the road to the Oscars.

Best First Feature

Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version
Fernando Frias de la Parra – I’m No Longer Here
Regina King – One Night in Miami (Tripp, Thomas)
Darius Marder – Sound of Metal (Wesley, Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Florian Zeller – The Father (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter)

Wesley Lovell: With Emerald Fennell and Lee Isaac Chung both out of the running because of their citations in the main directing race, this race becomes incredibly competitive. Three of the five nominees were major Oscar nominees, with two of the films in the Best Picture race and the other just barely shut out. Radha Blank and Fernando Frias de la Parra can be thankful for their nominations because it’s very unlikely either will win. Florian Zeller’s The Father has more recently opened and has been picking up steam in recent weeks. The same could be said of Darius Marder and his film Sound of Metal. Then there is Regina King who already has the respect of her acting peers and, based on an solid television career, probably has the respect of her directing peers. As an Academy exercise, King’s film is the least Oscar honored and while she was one of a handful of directors pushing for an Oscar nomination (alongside Marder, Zeller, and Aaron Sorkin), it wouldn’t be surprising for her to win, but Sound of Metal and The Father seem like more creatively adventurous films and are more likely to pull in votes with Sound of Metal being the more frequently recognized. I have to go with Marder as the lead, Zeller in second, and King a close runner-up.
Peter J. Patrick: In a year of passion projects, the debut films of all the nominees stand out, but both Darius Marder and Florian Zeller have drawn the strongest attention with Marder’s Sound of Metal the more cinematic work than Zeller’s admirable expansion of his stage play, The Father. Marder is the likelier winner.
Tripp Burton: There are a lot of strong candidates here, and this category has had some upsets in the past. My hunch is that Regina King picks up this one, but Darius Marter and Florian Zeller are real strong contenders too.
Thomas LaTourette: Even though I liked Sound of Metal more, One Night in Miami has more buzz and I could see Regina King winning here.

Best Documentary Director

Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw – The Truffle Hunters
Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed – My Octopus Teacher (Wesley, Tripp, Thomas)
David France – Welcome to Chechnya (Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss – Boys State (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter)
Benjamin Ree – The Painter and the Thief

Wesley Lovell: My Octopus Teacher is the only Oscar nominee of the bunch. I think that gives the film an edge. That said, the other films have been well regarded and I could see any of them making a run for this award. As such, I have to put Octopus in a slight lead over em>Boys State< the most frequently honored film of the remaining four. Peter J. Patrick: I think that Welcome to Chechnya is probably the strongest contender. I’ll go with Boys State for runner-up.
Tripp Burton: My Octopus Teacher keeps picking up surprising wins, and it could prevail here too, although the dangerous achievement of David France with Welcome to Chechnya shouldn’t be overlooked.
Thomas LaTourette: I think My Octopus Teacher should win, unless they go with the more topical Welcome to Chechnya.

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