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Did the Directors Guild of America just solidify the Oscar race, or toss the whole deck of cards up into the air? We’ll know for sure on Thursday when the Academy announces its selections for Best Director (and every other category), but the five men nominated by the DGA have to feel pretty comfortable going into Thursday morning thanks to today’s nods.
The five finalists for this year’s Directors Guild of America’s top prize, revealed via press release, are:
Wes Anderson, for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Clint Eastwood, for American Sniper
Alejandro Inarritu, for Birdman
Richard Linklater, for Boyhood
Morten Tyldum, for The Imitation Game
And now, as we do with any list of this sort, we begin to analyze the people who are NOT included… and worry about their chances of breaking through at the Oscars. The most notable absence has to be Ava DuVernay, whose film Selma is winning over the hearts of critics but can’t catch a break with major awards groups. David Fincher and Angelina Jolie couldn’t crack the DGA for their work on Gone Girl and Unbroken, respectively. And it sounds like it’s officially time to give up hope on candidates like Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), James Marsh (The Theory of Everything) and even Damien Chazelle (Whiplash).
The candidates that made the cut are deserving, however. Even Eastwood, who will rile up several awards-race trackers, delivered one of his better films in American Sniper (though it’s hard to argue that he belongs on this short list ahead of DuVernay, Miller, Fincher or Chazelle… but I digress). You do get the impression that four of the five candidates are preparing to lose to this season’s clear-cut frontrunner, Richard Linklater, who’ll likely collect all of the awards for Boyhood. As he should.
Are these five DGA nominees locks for Oscar? Not exactly. There have been exceptions over the years, where one or two DGA nominees didn’t carry over to Oscar’s ballot. That could be good news for Selma supporters, or for those hoping that David Fincher would pick up an Academy nod. But if I had to wager, I’d guess that three of these men are locks, and one of the remaining two – either Eastwood or Tyldum – will be disappointed on Thursday morning.