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by Peter Knegt
January 9, 2012 1:05 PM
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Directors Guild of America Announces 2011 DGA Award Nominees

Alexander Payne in New York. Photo by Eric Kohn.

The Director's Guild of America has announced the five nominees for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2011.

Three very expected names that made the cut were Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Martin Scorsese ("Hugo") and Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"). They were joined by Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), who seemed like a good bet for a nomination, but the other nominee was not expected at all. David Fincher, who got his third DGA nomination for "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo."

Fincher got the nod over the likes of Terrence Malick ("The Tree of Life"), Bennett Miller ("Moneyball"), Tate Taylor ("The Help") and - most notably - Steven Speilberg, who is all of a sudden a dark, uh, horse for "War Horse."

The award has traditionally been one of the industry’s most accurate barometers for who will win the Best Director Academy Award.  Only six times since the DGA Awards began in 1948 has the Feature Film winner not gone on to win the corresponding Academy Award:
1968: Anthony Harvey won the DGA Award for The Lion in Winter while Carol Reed took home the Oscar for Oliver!
1972: Francis Ford Coppola received the DGA’s nod for The Godfather while the Academy selected Bob Fosse for Cabaret.
1985: Steven Spielberg received his first DGA Award for The Color Purple while the Oscar went to Sydney Pollack for Out of Africa.
1995: Ron Howard was chosen by the DGA for his direction of Apollo 13 while Academy voters selected Mel Gibson for Braveheart.
2000: Ang Lee won the DGA Award for his direction of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon while Steven Soderbergh won the Academy Award for Traffic.
2002: Rob Marshall won the DGA Award for Chicago while Roman Polanski received the Academy Award for The Pianist.

This year's winner will be named at the 64th Annual DGA Awards Dinner on Saturday, January 28, 2012, at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.  The nominees are (in alphabetical order, with statistics provided by the DGA):
Midnight in Paris
(Sony Pictures Classics)
Mr. Allen’s Directorial Team:
·         Unit Production Managers:  Matthieu Rubin, Helen Robin
·         First Assistant Director:  Gil Kenny
·         Second Assistant Director:  Delphine Bertrand
This is Mr. Allen’s fifth DGA Feature Film Award nomination.  He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for Annie Hall (1977), and was previously nominated in that category for Manhattan (1979), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).  Mr. Allen was honored with the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
(Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)
Mr. Fincher’s Directorial Team:
·         Unit Production Manager:  Daniel M. Stillman
·         First Assistant Director:  Bob Wagner
·         Second Assistant Director:  Allen Kupetsky
·         Production Manager (Sweden Unit): Karolina Heimburg
·         Second Assistant Directors (Sweden Unit): Hanna Nilsson, Pontus Klänge
·         2nd Second Assistant Director (Sweden Unit): Niklas Sjöström
·         2nd Second Assistant Director (U.S. Unit):  Maileen Williams
·         Unit Production Manager (Zurich Unit): Christos Dervenis
·         Unit Production Manager (U.K. Unit): Lara Baldwin
·         Second Assistant Director (U.K. Unit): Paul Taylor
This is Mr. Fincher’s third DGA Feature Film Award nomination.  He was previously nominated in this category last year for The Social Network and for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008.  He previously won the DGA Commercial Award for Speed Chain (Nike), Gamebreakers (Nikegridiron.com), and Beauty for Sale (Xelibri Phones) in 2003 and was nominated in that category again in 2008.

The Artist
(The Weinstein Company)
Mr. Hazanavicius’ Directorial Team:
·         Unit Production Manager:  Antoine De Cazotte
·         Production Manager (FR): Ségoléne Fleury
·         First Assistant Director (FR): James Canal
·         First Assistant Director (US):  David Cluck
·         Second Assistant Director (US):  Dave Paige
·         Second Second Assistant Directors: Karla Strum, Ricky Robinson
This is Mr. Hazanavicius’ first DGA Feature Film Award nomination.
The Descendants
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Mr. Payne’s Directorial Team:
·         Unit Production Manager:  George Parra
·         First Assistant Director:  Richard L. Fox
·         Second Assistant Director:  Scott August
·         Second Second Assistant Director:  Amy Wilkins Bronson
This is Mr. Payne’s second DGA Feature Film Award nomination.  He was previously nominated in that category for Sideways in 2004.
(Paramount Pictures)
Mr. Scorsese’s Directorial Team:
·         Unit Production Managers:  Charles Newirth, Georgia Kacandes, Angus More Gordon
·         First Assistant Director:  Chris Surgent
·         Second Assistant Director:  Richard Graysmark
·         Second Assistant Directors:  Tom Brewster, Fraser Fennell-Ball
·         Production Managers (Paris Unit): Michael Sharp, Gilles Castera
·         First Assistant Director (Paris Unit): Ali Cherkaoui
This is Mr. Scorsese’s ninth DGA Award nomination.  He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film in 2006 for The Departed, and was previously nominated in that category for Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), The Age of Innocence (1993), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Aviator (2004). Mr. Scorsese also won the DGA Award last year for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Television for Boardwalk Empire.  In 1999, Mr. Scorsese was presented with the Filmmaker Award at the inaugural DGA Honors Gala, and he was honored with the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.


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  • r mad | January 13, 2012 9:04 AMReply

    DGA, like Oscar, like Hollywood... what an eclectic blow me parade of vomitus when it comes to the 'in crowd' handing out awards to each other.

  • jingmei | January 9, 2012 8:02 PMReply

    David Fincher, awesome. Plus l'homme francais.

  • jean vigo | January 9, 2012 4:56 PMReply

    Now I have to wonder whether the DGA membership knows what a director does. Leaving out Malick is almost laughable. (Oh, right, aren't like folks who direct sitcoms part of the DGA, too?)

    Or we can take the Alexander Payne Formula: 1. Find good book that is easily adaptable to film and 2. Book must have film critic's sensibility of the world 3. Get strong cast (ok, I give him this) 4. Show very little visual palette to exceed more than your run-of the-mill TV film (clever technique because it makes the film even more digestible to the masses) 5. Have the critics heap enormous praise on the director for the wonderful moments and dialogue that came right out of the novel.
    Payne is critic-proof. I commend him for this

  • Alan Gorg | January 9, 2012 2:11 PMReply

    The Academy Awards seem a joke after seeing Woody Allen's pseudo-intellectual, painfully boring Paris film about, basically, nothing--with a lead non-performance by Owen Wilson, who appeared half-asleep through the film.

  • Vino | January 9, 2012 1:35 PMReply

    Oscars, Schmascers -- it's all so mediocre.