69th Annual Directors Guild Awards Cement Frontrunners, Shake Up The Bottom

Another day, another massively important guild. Today, it’s the Directors Guild of America, who have announced their nominees for Best Director, and have lined up with both Best Director AND Best Picture for the bulk of their run.

Today, they’ve officially confirmed the three frontrunners, plus one passionately loved one, as frontrunners, while throwing in a curveball for good measure. As many anticipated, Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins are continuing their major duel for Best Director here at the DGAs, for La La Land and Moonlight, respectively. Also in the mix is third frontrunner, Manchester by the Sea, proving that this film may indeed be a bigger contender than we thought. Also on the docket is Denis Villeneuve, who pulled off an incredibly difficult project with Arrival and turned a moody, thought-provoking drama into high art that actually pleased its crowds. However, the fifth spot is where things get interesting. Instead of the expect nomination of Martin Scorsese, Mel Gibson, or David Mackenzie, the DGA has gone with Garth Davis for Lion. This is surprising to me, as I found Lion a little underwhelming and only competently directed, but the guild likes who the guild likes, and it doesn’t hurt if Harvey Weinstein is pulling at the strings. I think the most shocking thing about this field is that everyone here is a first-time nominee. Even Davis only has one other nomination, and that’s this year for First Time Director (evidently Lion is his first film). It’s certainly going to be an interesting year, and I’m excited to see how it all shakes out.

Meanwhile, the Best First Time Director category offers up no surprises. As mentioned before, Davis leads that pack, and is joined by the unsurprising Tim Miller for Deadpool (man that film is coming on strong), Kelly Fremon Craig for the incredible The Edge of Seventeen, Dan Trachtenberg for the entertaining 10 Cloverfield Lane, and, surprisingly, Nate Parker, earning his first major nomination since his film The Birth of a Nation went up in flames surrounding a decade-old controversy and terrible box-office returns. And the Best Director of a Documentary category offered up no surprises as O.J.: Made in America, Weiner, I Am Not Your Negro, Life, Animated (which I recently caught on TV and thought was very good) and The Eagle Huntress all dominate the conversation.

As for television, things played out as they were expected to. Silicon Valley, Grease Live!, The People v. O.J. Simpson, Veep, and “The Battle of the Bastards” all dominated the conversation, with the most interesting (and deserving) nom coming for Donald Glover’s work on the Atlanta episode “B.A.N.,” which is a surrealist cornucopia of ideas and format-changing innovation. And while I have no idea what any of those commercials are, I’d say the two most interesting/deserving are Derek Cianfrance (a respected director in his own right) and Lance Acord, who directed “Frankie’s Holiday,” the now-famous Apple Christmas commercial featuring Brad Garrett as Frankenstein. It’s so dumb, but I cry every time. Don’t judge me.

The 69th Annual DGA Awards will be held Saturday, February 4th. You can see the full list of nominees, film and television, below.

Best Director

  • Damien Chazelle-La La land
  • Garth Davis-Lion
  • Barry Jenkins-Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan-Manchester by the Sea
  • Denis Villeneuve-Arrival

Best First Time Director

  • Garth Davis-Lion
  • Kelly Fremon Craig-The Edge of Seventeen
  • Tim Miller-Deadpool
  • Nate Parker-The Birth of a Nation
  • Dan Trachtenberg-10 Cloverfield Lane

Best Director of a Dramatic Series

  • The Duffer Brothers-Stranger Things, “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”
  • Ryan Murphy-The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, “From the Ashes of Tragedy”
  • Jonathan Nolan-Westworld, “The Original”
  • Miguel Sapochnik-Game of Thrones, “The Battle of the Bastards”
  • John Singleton-The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, “The Race Card”

Best Director of a Comedy Series

  • Alec Berg-Silicon Valley, “Daily Active Users”
  • Donald Glover-Atlanta, “B.A.N.”
  • Mike Judge-Silicon Valley, “Founder Friendly”
  • Becky Martin-Veep, Inauguration”
  • Dale Stern-Veep, “Mother”

Best Director for TV Movie and Miniseries

  • Raymond De Felitta-Madoff
  • Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski-Grease Live!
  • Kenny Leon and Alex Rudzinski-Hairspray Live!
  • Jay Roach-All the Way
  • Steve Zailian-The Night Of

Best Director of a Variety/News/Talk/Sports Show

  • Paul G. Casey-Real Time With Bill Maher, “Show #1437”
  • Nora Gerard-CBS Sunday Morning, “Charles Osgood Farewell Broadcast”
  • Jim Hoskinson-The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, “Episode #0179”
  • Don Roy King-Saturday Night Live, “Host: Dave Chappelle”
  • Paul Pennolino-Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, “Episode #1030”

Best Director of a Variety/News/Talk/Sports Special

  • Jerry Foley-Tony Bennett Celebrates 90
  • Tim Mancinelli-The Late Late Show with James Corden, “The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special”
  • Linda Mendoza-Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at the White House
  • Paul Myers-Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, “A Very Special Full Frontal Special”
  • Glenn Weiss-The 70th Annual Tony Awards 

Best Director of a Reality Program

  • Ken Fuchs-Shark Tank, “801”
  • John Gonzalez-Live PD, “Episode 5”
  • Brian Smith-Strong, “Welcome to STRONG”
  • Rupert Thompson-American Grit, “The Finale Over the Falls”
  • Bertram Van Munster-The Amazing Race, “We’re Only Doing Freaky Stuff Today”

Best Director of a Children’s Programs

  • Liz Allen-The Kicks, “Pilot”
  • Alethea Jones-Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, “Gortimer and the Jack of All Trades”
  • Michael Lembeck-A Nutcracker Christmas
  • Tina Mabry-An American Girl Story, “Melody 1963: Love Has to Win”
  • John Schultz-Adventures in Babysitting

Best Director of a Commercial

  • Lance Acord-Frankie’s Holiday, Apple
  • Dante Ariola-Hold Your Breath, SunTrust
  • Fredrik Bond-Dive, Apple
  • Derek Cianfrance-Chase, Nike Golf
  • AG Rojas-The Best Planet, S7 Airlines

Best Director of a Documentary

  • Otto Bell-The Eagle Huntress
  • Ezra Edelman-O.J.: Made In America
  • Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg-Weiner
  • Raoul Peck-I Am Not Your Negro
  • Roger Ross Williams-Life, Animated

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