Why does the headline highlight three directors instead of their films, as was the case with the PGA and WGA announcements? Because, as you’ll notice, they’re all women. That’s right, this year the Directors Guild of America is recognizing female documentarians in three of their five nominees. As a reminder, Sarah Polley’s film is Stories We Tell, Jehane Noujaim’s is The Square and Lucy Walker’s is The Crash Reel. All very well-directed films that will be challenged by Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing and Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer. Interestingly, the two men are also relatively new on the scene.
The only overlap the DGA has this year is with Stories We Tell, which is also up for a WGA award for documentary screenplay. This is also the first of the three guilds not to recognize Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets. As for Oscar chances, all five nominees are also shortlisted by the Academy. Could these be the five nominees announced this Thursday? The two awards never match up so perfectly. However, last year there was an overlap of three films, and the DGA winner (Searching or Sugar Man) also won the Academy Award.
Historically the DGA hasn’t had as much success with predicting the Oscar. 1990’s American Dream, 2009’s The Cove and 2010’s Inside Job were the only ones before last year. But the DGA has tended to also honor a lot of famous Oscar snubs, such as Hoop Dreams and Grizzly Man. What if one of this year’s five is going to be a famous snub? Could it be The Act of Killing?
I’d love to see Stories We Tell take home both, but I’m pretty satisfied with this year’s crop of DGA nominees. It doesn’t matter who wins, as they’re choices are already to be applauded. The decision of who does get the award, though, will be announced on January 25, 2014.
Again, here are the nominees via the DGA site:
Cutie and the Boxer
Ex Lion Tamer
This is Mr. Heinzerling’s first DGA Award nomination.
Roast Beef Productions
This is Ms. Noujaim’s third DGA Award nomination. She won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary for Startup.com in 2001 (together with Chris Hegedus) and was also nominated in this category in 2004 for Control Room.
The Act of Killing
Final Cut for Real APS
Novaya Zemlya Ltd.
Spring Films Ltd.
This is Mr. Oppenheimer’s first DGA Award nomination.
Stories We Tell
The National Film Board of Canada
This is Ms. Polley’s first DGA Award nomination.
The Crash Reel
HBO Documentary Films
KP Rides Again, LLC
Tree Tree Tree Production
This is Ms. Walker’s first DGA Award nomination.