Friday, January 13, 2017

'La La Land,' 'Moonlight,' and 'Lion' among nominees for 2017 Directors Guild Awards

January 24 is not too far away, which means we're very close to the announcement of the nominees for the 89th annual Academy Awards. The guild nominations have been slowly unveiled over the course of the last month, with the Producers Guild, Screen Actors Guild, and Writers Guild all announcing their picks for the best of 2016. Yesterday, the last of the major guilds, the Directors Guild of America, revealed their choices for the best directors of the year. Going into the day, there were many questions over who would fill out the final two spots, as three nominees were considered to be locks. The choices were somewhat surprising and could indicate a fascinating directorial slate when the Oscar nominees are announced. Here are the 2017 Directors Guild Award nominees!

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Garth Davis, Lion
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in First-Time Feature Film

Image courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Garth Davis, Lion
Kelly Fremon Craig, The Edge of Seventeen
Tim Miller, Deadpool
Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation
Dan Trachtenberg, 10 Cloverfield Lane

Pretty much every Oscar prognosticator knew that Damien Chazelle, Barry Jenkins, and Kenneth Lonergan were on their way to DGA nominations. Those three are widely considered to be the locks for the Best Director category, although stranger things have happened in the past (the Directors branch of the Academy is pretty fickle- Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, and Ridley Scott have all been snubbed in recent years). Denis Villeneuve was also a popular pick, so it wasn't all that surprising to see him receive a nod for his spectacular work on Arrival. However, the real surprise of the day was Lion's Garth Davis, who wasn't even in the conversation until yesterday. Many suspected that David Mackenzie and Mel Gibson might make the cut, but Davis managed to sneak into both DGA categories.

So does this mean Davis makes it in with the Oscars? Possibly. I'd say this is a bigger boost for Lion itself than the potential of a Davis nomination. The film hasn't done all that spectacular at the box office, so the Weinstein Company really needs the Academy love to turn this into a hit. The DGA nomination is a nice boost for Villeneuve, who seems more and more like a sure thing every day. As for other films in the potential Oscar consideration, Deadpool's Tim Miller managed to make it into the First-Time feature film category, along with Davis, Edge of Seventeen's Kelly Fremon Craig, Birth of a Nation's Nate Parker, and 10 Cloverfield Lane's Dan Trachtenberg, my favorite pick of the day. Does the acknowledgment by the guild mean that Deadpool is in good shape for a Best Picture nomination? Once again, doubtfully. I'm not placing much weight on the First-Time feature category, but as always, I could be proved wrong.

The Directors Guild Awards will be announced on February 3, 2017.

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