It took a bit of time but the game of chicken between Warner Bros and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) has a winner and it’s…everyone. Back in June, the DGA released a statement that reinstated the pre-COVID rules of requiring at least a seven-day exclusive theatrical run for a feature film before it debuts on demand, streaming or other home video release in order to be eligible for a DGA award.
“After over a year of darkness, theater marquees lighting up across our nation have been a welcome sight for our healing communities,” said DGA president Thomas Schlamme. “We celebrate the return of the important role that theatrical cinema plays in bringing together audiences as they collectively experience films as the filmmakers intended them to be viewed.”
This decision put Warner Bros into a corner as it had made the sweeping decision to premiere all of its 2021 theatrical releases (and all future barring a change) day and date with HBO Max, its streaming component. Months went by and Warner Bros didn’t budge, making no announcements of changing its release strategy to accommodate the DGA’s new rule. It was a risky gambit, as the studio’s two big fall releases, Denis Villeneuve’s epic sci-fi adaptation of Dune and Reinaldo Marcus Green’s crowdpleasing family drama King Richard, were both destined for awards season glory. This rule would have eliminated both of their chances at a DGA nomination. While it might not seem like a big enough dent to alter their course, sometimes a small opening is all it takes for another film, director or performer to swoop in and take the spotlight.
In the end it was the DGA who budged, opting to ‘temporarily alter’ eligibility for 2021 day-and-date releases and re-opening the doors for not only Warner Bros but all directors whose 2021 films have received a day-and-date, streaming or VOD release.
With that, and after the reviews from Venice for Dune and Telluride for King Richard, Villeneuve moves up the chart and Green makes a splashy debut. For Villeneuve it could be a return after landing a Best Director nomination for 2016’s Arrival and for Green it would be his first, and for his best-reviewed film to date and possibly housing the next Best Actor winner in Will Smith.
Here are my ranked 2022 Best Director Oscar predictions for September 2021.
Green – moves up ↑ Red – moves down ↓ Blue – new/re-entry ♦ Black – no movement ↔
1. Kenneth Branagh – Belfast (Focus Features) ↑
2. Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog (Netflix) ↔
3. Guillermo del Toro – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) ↓
4. Denis Villeneuve – Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max) ↑
5. Reinaldo Marcus Green – King Richard (Warner Bros/HBO Max) ♦
6. Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza (MGM/UA) ↑
7. Joel Coen – The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple/A24) ↓
8. Ridley Scott – House of Gucci (MGM/UA) ↓
9. Pablo Larraín – Spencer (NEON) ↑
10. Jonas Poher Rasmussen – Flee (NEON) ↔
Other contenders: Sian Heder – CODA (Apple), Adam McKay – Don’t Look Up (Netflix), Paolo Sorrentino – The Hand of God ↓ (Netflix), Asghar Farhadi – A Hero ↓ (Amazon Studios) Ridley Scott – The Last Duel (20th Century Studios), Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Lost Daughter (Netflix), Pedro Almodóvar – Parallel Mothers (Sony Pictures Classics), Rebecca Hall – Passing (Netflix), Steven Spielberg – West Side Story ↓ (20th Century Studios), Joachim Trier – The Worst Person in the World (NEON)
Photos: Warner Bros Pictures/IMDb