Tuesday January 10, 2012
Oscar Watch: Have the DGAs Whittled Us Down to Five Best-Picture Candidates?
- Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
- David Fincher, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
- Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
- Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
- Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Why do the DGAs matter? Because, for those who still care about this kind of thing, the DGAs are the most accurate, single predictor of which film will win the Academy Award for best picture. In the 63 awards seasons we've had since the DGAs began in 1948, the DGA has accurately predicted the Oscar winner for best picture 50 times. In this century it's happened every year except 2000, when the DGA chose Ang Lee (“Crouching Tiger”) and the Academy went for “Gladiator”; and 2005, when the DGA again chose Ang Lee, who won the Oscar for best director, but whose picture, “Brokeback Mountain,” lost to somethingorother.
A little history among the nominees.
This is Woody Allen's fifth DGA nomination. Previously, he'd been nominated for “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” He won for “Annie Hall.” Same as with the Academy.
Fincher has been nom'ed twice (“Benjamin Button” and “The Social Network”) and never won. It's the first nom for Hazanavicius. Payne was nom'ed for “Sideways” in 2004.
And it's the eighth feature-film nomination for Scorsese: “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” “The Age of Innocence,” “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator” and “The Departed.” He won for “The Departed.” Little-commented-upon: the DGAs screwed him over for “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas” first.
Question 1: Why is there such synchronicity between the DGAs and the Academy? Does the DGA try to predict the Oscar winner? Or does the Academy, which is dominated by actors, follow the DGA's lead, as actors follow the lead of a director during filming? Or is it something else entirely?
Question 2: Has any picture won the Oscar for best picture without its director being nom'ed for a DGA? I.e., are we now down to five best-picture candidates?
Here's a quick check:
- In 1989, when Oliver Stone won the DGA for “Born on the 4th of July,” Bruce Beresford, whose “Driving Miss Daisy” was the eventual Oscar winner, was NOT among the DGA nominees.
- In 1968, when Anthony Harvey won the DGA for “The Lion in Winter,” Carol Reed, whose “Oliver!” was the eventual Oscar winner, was NOT among the DGA nominees.
- In 1967, when Mike Nichols won the DGA for “The Graduate,” Norman Jewison, whose “In the Heat of the Night” was the eventual Oscar winner, was NOT among the DGA nominees. (He was a “finalist” who didn't make the cut to “nominee.”)
- In 1952, when John Ford won the DGA for “The Quiet Man,” Cecille B. DeMille, whose “The Greatest Show on Earth” was the eventual Oscar winner, was NOT among the DGA quarter-finalists. (He was among the DGA's 18 “nominees,” but that's a bridge too far.)
- In 1948, when Joseph Mankiewicz won the DGA for “A Letter to Three Wives,” Laurence Olivier, whose “Hamlet” was the eventual Oscar winner, was NOT among the DGA quarter-finalists.
So there is precedence but not much: five times in 63 years. And never since 1989.
Thoughts? Does it feel like we're down to “The Descendants” vs. “The Artist”? If so, whom would you choose?
And who's missing from among the noms? Some say Spielberg and “War Horse.” Others say Bennett Miller and “Moneyball.” I say where's Terrence Malick?