Oscars 2016: DGA Nominations

The DGA Nominations are here, and pretty much all the clay we’re gonna get to guess what the Oscar nominees are is in our collective possession.

Based on what the frontrunners are for Best Picture, I’d say they pretty much went chalk here. Though the DGA is notorious for only getting 4 of the 5 nominees, with at least one other entry making it on that feels more like a directors branch choice than a populist “frontrunner.” Think Lenny Abrahamson for Room last year, or Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher in 2014, or Michael Haneke and Benh Zeitlin in 2012. There should be something you don’t expect as much. It’s not like 2013 where all five nominees are major players (that year was Scorsese, David O. Russell, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen, established names or frontrunners based on their films).

So I’d feel safe saying not all of these five will make it on the final list, but it’s also a good measuring stick for where their heads are at.

Here are your 2016 DGA nominees:

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Garth Davis, Lion

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

The only minor surprise is Garth Davis. It’s nice seeing him here, but that definitely wasn’t the person we were expecting to see. Or maybe we were. Lion has always seemed a likely inclusion on the Best Picture list, given Harvey Weinstein’s penchant for getting films on and the amount of support it’s seen throughout the race. This pretty much cements that notion.

I’m not 100% certain Davis winds up an actual nominee, but I’m also not ruling him entirely out, either.

Chazelle and Jenkins seem locked. Lonergan seems a likely contender. I’d be surprised if they snubbed him at this point. He feels like someone they’d want to nominate purely for what he went through on his last film, which has gotten the reputation as a masterpiece after-the-fact.

Villeneuve seems to be riding the wave of, “Your last two films were great, and you didn’t get any love, so here’s the love.” He seems 75/25 in favor of getting on.

If it’s not Garth Davis — and the history of DGA vs. Oscar indicates that one of them will be left off, and he seems like the likely exclusion — then who is it?

Obvious choices would be David Mackenzie for Hell or High Water, Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge, Martin Scorsese for Silence. Hell or High Water is a really liked film, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mackenzie make it on, even though he feels like a 50/50 shot at best. Mel could make it. I’m not feeling it without the DGA, but it could happen too. Scorsese feels like a dark horse at this point, owing to nothing other than his reputation.

Pablo Larrain for Jackie feels like he needed the DGA to get that spot. I’m thinking all the love for that film is going to be centered around Natalie Portman and the tech awards.

Keep an eye out for Tom Ford and Nocturnal Animals. I’m not sold he doesn’t eventually make it on. He might be my alternate choice come nominations morning.

Denzel for Fences seems very unlikely. I see him getting nominated for Best Actor, but Best Picture and Best Director too? I don’t think so. I think he needed DGA to make that case. Even then, I’d have doubted it until it happened.

Sully seems dead in the water (pun ridiculously intended) at this point. If Eastwood couldn’t crack the list after American Sniper made all that money and a DGA nomination, he’s got no shot there.

Hidden Figures will not happen. That’s a lame duck Best Picture nominee. That’s always what it was gonna be. Picture, Screenplay and maybe an acting nomination. That’ll be it. That’s how it’s positioned.

Jeff Nichols looks like an afterthought at this point. Loving didn’t manage to get any traction. So that’s out.

Anyone holding out hope the latecomers like Pete Berg and Ben Affleck get nominated are best served putting those attentions elsewhere.

If I had to rank your potential Best Director nominees, I would say:

1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land

2. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

3. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

4. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

5. Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals

6. Garth Davis, Lion

7. David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water

8. Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

9. Martin Scorsese, Silence

10. Pablo Larrain, Jackie

And a long, long, long shot is Ken Loach, though it doesn’t seem like Daniel Blake resonated in the US like it did overseas. Seems very unlikely, but with a BAFTA nomination, you have to maintain that it could happen.

Otherwise — I’d be pretty surprised if anyone else cracked the list. I honestly don’t think we’re going past #8 on my list. But we have a week to find alternatives. So we’ll see.

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Note: They also gave out nominations for “First time director,” and the nominees were Garth Davis again for Lion, Nate Parker for The Birth of a Nation, Kelly Fremon Craig for The Edge of Seventeen, Tim Miller for Deadpool and Dan Trachtenberg for 10 Cloverfield Lane. Hard to argue with any of those choices.

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One response

  1. Yeah, I think Ford’ll be the one to get on over Davis. I think that film has more support than the casual observer would expect (which is cool, since I really dug it).

    January 12, 2017 at 12:10 pm

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