This year’s DGA winner is going to really help us figure out what is going on with this Birdman vs. Boyhood situation, right?. Or is it? If Richard Linklater wins, as he’s won with the Golden Globes, the BFCA, NYFCC and LAFCA then it will seem that he and Boyhood are back on track for the Oscars. But if Alejandro G. Iñárritu wins for Birdman then things get really hairy. Although we’ve seen Best Director/Best Picture splits for the last two years they were easily predictable. Last year Alfonso Cuarón’s direction of Gravity was an overwhelming favorite to win all season. That the film also managed to tie 12 Years a Slave for the Producers Guild award (a first) only secured that. The year before was the Ben Affleck’s Argo snub. He wasn’t nominated for the Oscar despite winning every director precursor and his film winning Best Picture, making room for Ang Lee (Life of Pi) to become a two-time director winner without a Best Picture to go with it (he previously won for 2005’s Brokeback Mountain).
Of the five DGA nominees this year all have their films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar but only four are nominated for the Best Director Oscar as well. Clint Eastwood (American Sniper) is the odd man out to Foxcatcher‘s Bennett Miller there. Incidentally, Miller is the first ‘lone director’ nominee since the Best Picture expansion in 2009. Foxcatcher did not make it into this year’s Best Picture field of eight.
Let’s check out this chart dating from 2000-2013 of DGA winners, Best Director Oscar winners and Best Picture Oscar winners and how they correlate.
As you can see, the connection between a DGA win and the Best Picture Oscar is strong. Only three times has the winner of the DGA not seen their film win Best Picture and those three were very fractured years. This year doesn’t seem like a 12 Years a Slave, Crash or Gladiator. Richard Linklater has been the frontrunner for this for quite a few months and despite the PGA and SAG wins that Birdman has accrued it still doesn’t seem like enough. I’m predicting Linklater to win the DGA tomorrow night and my Gold Rush Gang peers agree (with Iñárritu as the alternate), with the exception of Peter Cioth. He has Iñárritu winning and Linklater as an alternate. In perusing the predictions in the Directors Guild Gold Rush Contest, there are a few folks who have Iñárritu winning. Do they know something we don’t? Is it really that risky to predict him? All I know is, if Iñárritu pulls off a win here we could be looking at the first Best Picture winner without a Film Editing nomination since 1980’s Ordinary People.