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70th Directors Guild of America (DGA) Preview and Predictions for Feature Film: It’s del Toro’s to lose

DGA President Paris Barclay (left) and 68th DGA winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (right) with last year’s winner, Damien Chazelle (La La Land).

The winners of the 70th Directors Guild of America (DGA) awards announce in film and television tomorrow night and I have some thoughts on who’s going to win.

Like it says in the title, this is Guillermo del Toro’s to lose. He comes in with Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice wins (plus the most overall critics’ win for the season with 13) for The Shape of Water, is a respected and beloved director and at the helm of the possible Best Picture winner. I’d be hard pressed to see someone else get this but if they do, boy do we have a new wrench in this already crazy Oscar race.

The DGA and Oscar went 4/5 this year, as they often do. Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) nabbed a DGA nom but was snubbed at Oscar. Before you cry ‘but Ben Affleck!’ keep in mind that Affleck won everything leading up to Oscar night and McDonagh most certainly has not. His chances here are in last place, by a pretty significant margin.

Christopher Nolan is four-time DGA nominee and finally earned a Best Director Oscar nomination this year for Dunkirk. Nolan is likely next in line after del Toro (he has 10 director win from critics) but he should still be at arm’s length for a win. It would have to be a pretty big upset but, if he does, the sound you’ll hear is a million film bros blowing their loads all over their computer screens as they refresh Twitter.

Do you know who the 3rd most critics’ wins for Director is this year? It’s Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. In fact, she’s only one behind Nolan for the season having just won her 9th this week from GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics. Gerwig is only the seventh woman nominated by the DGA and, just like the Oscars, the first since Kathryn Bigelow – the DGA and Oscar winner for 2009’s The Hurt Locker. Gerwig’s low-key but assured directing hand could find itself a major upset here tomorrow night.

Jordan Peele (Get Out) is in both a great and a dubious position. He’s double-nominated, earning mentions in First-Time Feature Film and the main award. He’s winning First-Feature Film, full stop. But, would they give him both? It’s only the second year of the category. Lion‘s Garth Davis won last year, lost the main award and then ultimately was snubbed at Oscar for Mel Gibson. Peele is only the fourth black director nominated for the DGA’s top award and none have ever won. A win here would be HUGE, both historically and for how much it would disrupt the Oscar race. When you consider that the makeup of DGA membership also includes a large television contingent and that Peele is coming off the highly successful, Emmy-winning show Key & Peele then the alternate might be staring right at you.

It doesn’t take much to realize that even in this era of Best Picture/Best Director splits, the majority of the Director winners whose films lost Best Picture still had the #2 film in the race. La La Land was just behind Moonlight, The Revenant was just behind Spotlight, etc. So, if you are of the belief, for example, that Christopher Nolan is going to win DGA, you have then say that Dunkirk is the #2 film. But how? The only Best Picture winners without writing or acting nominations are Grand Hotel and Wings – over 85 years ago. That would be quite a precedent to break, which is why is makes more sense to look at a possible spoiler to del Toro being one of the contenders whose film also has acting and/or directing nominations. If we’re counting out McDonagh (and we should) that only leaves Gerwig and Peele. Lady Bird has Original Screenplay and two acting nominations (Lead and Supporting); Get Out has Original Screenplay and one acting nomination (in Lead). Those two should be your spoilers.

My predictions:

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film

Winner: Guillermo del Toro, THE SHAPE OF WATER

Alt: Jordan Peele, GET OUT

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in First-Time Feature Film

Winner: Jordan Peele, GET OUT

Alt: doesn’t matter (sorry, other nominees)

Here’s how the DGA and Oscar have correlated so far this decade.

About Erik Anderson

Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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