2017 Directors Guild of America Nominees
This afternoon, the Directors Guild of America announced their nomination selections for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film - in a year which sees five first-time nominees for the distinction.
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Garth Davis, Lion
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
First off, Damien Chazelle for La La Land seems like a shoo-in at this point, based on all the success and acclaim the film has garnered over the past couple of months, and it would be wise to bet on him succeeding here as well. The fact that Chazelle was able to topple over his competition at the Golden Globes this past Sunday in the category of Best Director, helping La La Land to succeed in capturing a new ceremony sweep record of 7 wins, only adds to his chances.
Easily the most curious choice here has to be Garth Davis for Lion - this year's major awards player from the Weinstein Company that has seemed to miss the mark, both with critics and audiences. While Lion isn't a bad film per se, Davis can't help but feel out of his element here, with the film being his feature debut (his follow-up film Mary Magdalene has already wrapped production and should be ready for next award season), and his placement could have been replaced with dozens upon dozens of more experienced candidates.
Elsewhere, Barry Jenkins for Moonlight picks up a well deserved nod, furthering the frontrunner status for the film and its direct competition with La La Land. Jenkins' film possesses the most unique and distinct directorial vision of the bunch here, so giving him his due for the film would be more than deserving to say the least.
Just as well, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, also highly acclaimed and up for many of the same awards as the former films. Lonergan's tenacity as a director has been well documented by his fellow cast and crew, and while Manchester is only his third feature to date, it possesses just the right amount of professional calibre for the DGA to appreciate.
Finally, Denis Villeneuve for Arrival, the first Canadian director to be nominated for this category in seven years (since Jason Reitman for Up in the Air). Arrival was the rare film which became a critical and box office smash, and Villeneuve's career has certainly elevated enough in recent years to be worthy of such an honour. His next sci-fi tentpole lade Runner 2049 opening later this fall will surely mark his transformation into a mainstream Hollywood director, but one with a determined sense of style and expertise. He could certainly be the underdog in this category to watch out for.
At this point, it would be safe to bet on Damien Chazelle for taking the DGA award, but things may change considerably over the next few weeks, once other guilds (as well as the Oscars) lay out their own nominees and in the process, changing the overall possible outcome.