The Director’s Guild of America (DGA) released their nominations for Best Director of 2007. The DGA has been giving out awards since 1949 and have a great track record for predicting who will win Best Director come Oscar season.

The nominees are:
• Paul Thomas Anderson—There Will Be Blood
• Joel and Ethan Coen—No Country for Old Men
• Tony Gilroy—Michael Clayton
• Sean Penn—Into the Wild
• Julian Schnabel—The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The winner of this year’s award will be announced on January 26th. This, like all other guild awards, is peer-based—directors nominating directors.

Why I like this:

The Guild actually got it right for the most part. I’m happy to see Anderson and the Coens getting nominated, they’ve done something with film that doesn’t come along every year. I think No Country edges out There Will Be Blood slightly, but they are both directed with the highest quality. Likewise, I thought Gilroy did a fantastic job and was surprised to find out that Michael Clayton is his directorial debut. I did not see The Diving Bell but the previews looked beautiful and I almost saw it Sunday, but caught There Will Be Blood instead. Penn’s work on Into the Wild is pretty solid, but that movie has a few too many risky decisions that didn’t pay dividends (such as having two voiceover narrations and Eddie Vedder on the soundtrack). It’s the weakest of the four I’ve seen.

Surprises:

I’m delighted to see that Atonement was not given a nomination. If you look back at my review for the film I felt that director Joe Wright was the worst part about this film. I called it Oscar bait, and I’m glad to see the Guild’s fishes are staying clear. I’m also surprised to see that Tim Burton didn’t get nominated for Sweeney Todd. Generally, if a musical comes along and it’s capably directed it’ll get some love come awards season. I also thought that Ridley Scott’s American Gangster was a bit trite and unevenly handled, so I’m also glad it didn’t get nominated.

Snubbed:

I’m sick of comedies gettin’ no love for direction. Jason Reitman was essential to making Juno a success just as much as writer Diablo Cody. I also thought Tamara Jenkins did a fantastic job with The Savages and handled the film with subtlety and the utmost integrity. He made a few questionable choices, like casting Julia Roberts and playing up the schmaltzy score at inopportune times, but I thought Mike Nichols did a great job with Charlie Wilson’s War. If anything, let’s hope that all three of these movies at least get love for their scripts. War and Juno have already received Golden Globe nominations for writing for Cody and War writer Aaron Sorkin, but Tamara Jenkins’ script has so far only received praise from several critics’ associations and the Indie Spirit Awards, which is also the only organization to acknowledge Jenkins’ fantastic direction.

But, like I said, overall they’ve done a nice job selecting five candidates. It’s been a pretty unpredictable awards season so far—my money is on Anderson to win it, but I don’t think There Will Be Blood will take home the Best Picture or Director statue come February, making it only the 7th movie in almost 60 years to not take home both the DGA and the Oscar. I’ve been wrong before, though. If there were ever a year to NOT put your money on a film to win a certain award, this is it.

The DGA nominations for Documentaries and Television will be announced Thursday.


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