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Directors Guild Film Nominations Show Oscar Leaders

The DGA signals where strength is in the Oscar race.

“Roma”

Photo by Carlos Somonte

In a year when the Oscar race is packed with popular films with flaws of one sort or another, the Directors Guild of America awards nominations provide a significant signpost of where things are headed. Golden Globe-winner “Bohemian Rhapsody” may be showing strong Guild support, but the DGA, which dictated that Bryan Singer get director credit for the film he left under fire (completed by Dexter Fletcher), did not go there.

The 2018 DGA nominations went to five lead auteur contenders for the Best Picture Oscar: Alfonso Cuaron for “Roma,” his second nomination after DGA-winner “Gravity,” Bradley Cooper for “A Star is Born,” Peter Farrelly for “Green Book,” Spike Lee for “BlacKkKlansman,” and Adam McKay for “Vice.” McKay was also nominated for “The Big Short.”

Cooper also landed a second nomination for first-time director. This marks Lee’s first DGA nomination; he is the fourth African-American director to be nominated for Best Feature by the DGA, following Lee Daniels (“Precious”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) and Jordan Peele (“Get Out”).

“Roma” marks a rare recognition for a foreign-language film; the DGA has nominated eleven, from Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon” in 1952 to DGA and Oscar-winner “The Artist” in 2011.

Among those left out were Ryan Coogler’s SAG-ensemble contender “Black Panther,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite,” which won the Golden Globe for Best Actress Comedy for Olivia Colman, and Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which won Best Supporting Actress for Regina King at the Globes. They are still in contention, along with the DGA nominees, for many Oscar nominations including Best Picture.

The 17,000 DGA directors tend to be more mainstream than their snobbier, more foreign-leaning counterparts in the Academy Directors Branch, who lean toward sophisticated fare. Since 1948, only seven DGA winners have not also won the Best Director Oscar. But the nominations don’t always line up.

All five films have been collecting various critics and guild kudos along the way, but notably, PGA and WGA nominees “Roma” and “Green Book” did not land SAG ensemble nominations. “BlacKkKlansman” and “A Star Is Born” did. (The Critics Choice Awards January 13 will be another bellwether.)

The nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2018 are (in alphabetical order):

Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Mr. Cooper’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager: Robert J. Dohrmann
First Assistant Director: Michele “Shelley” Ziegler
Second Assistant Director: Xanthus Valan
Second Second Assistant Director: Matthew R. Milan
This is one of two DGA Award nominations this year for Mr. Cooper. He is also nominated in the First-Time Feature Film category for “A Star Is Born.”

Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma” (Netflix)

Mr. Cuarón’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager: Ana Hernandez
First Assistant Director: Frederic Henocque Albino
Second Assistant Director: Patrick Heyerdahl
Second Second Assistant Directors: Luis Fernando Vásquez, Julián ‘Chico’ Valdés, Arturo Garcia
This is Mr. Cuarón’s second DGA Feature Film Award nomination. He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film in 2013 for “Gravity.”

Spike Lee and Adam Driver on the set of “BlacKkKlansman”

Peter Farrelly, “Green Book” (Universal Pictures)

Mr. Farrelly’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Managers: Alissa M. Kantrow, John Brister, Franses Simonovich (New York Unit)
First Assistant Directors: J.B. Rogers, Alejandro Ramia (New York Unit)
Second Assistant Directors: Paul B. Uddo, Jack McKenna (New York Unit)
Second Second Assistant Directors: Gerson Paz, Jonathan Warren
Location Manager: Louis Zuppardi
This is Mr. Farrelly’s first DGA Award nomination.

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman” (Focus Features)

Mr. Lee’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager: Marcei A. Brown
First Assistant Director: Mike Ellis
Second Assistant Director: Tracey Hinds
Second Second Assistant Directors: Jason Perez, Christina Ann Walker, Anastasia Folorunso
Location Manager: Tim Stacker
This is Mr. Lee’s first DGA Award nomination.

Adam McKay, “Vice” (Annapurna Pictures)

Mr. McKay’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Managers: Julie Hartley, Jeff Waxman
First Assistant Director: Matt Rebenkoff
Second Assistant Director: Joann Connolly
Second Second Assistant Directors: Yarden Levo, Dave Vogel (Washington D.C. Unit)
This is Mr. McKay’s second DGA Feature Film Award nomination. He was previously nominated for The Big Short in 2015. Mr. McKay also received a nomination this year in the Dramatic Series category for Succession.

In addition, the DGA announced the five nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director for 2018. The nominees are (in alphabetical order):

Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade” (A24)

Mr. Burnham’s Directorial Team:

First Assistant Director: Dan Taggatz
Second Assistant Director: Vic Coram
Second Second Assistant Director: Evelyn Fogleman
This is Mr. Burnham’s first DGA Award nomination.

Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Mr. Cooper’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager: Robert J. Dohrmann
First Assistant Director: Michele “Shelley” Ziegler
Second Assistant Director: Xanthus Valan
Second Second Assistant Director: Matthew R. Milan
This is one of two DGA Award nominations this year for Mr. Cooper. He is also nominated in the Feature Film category for “A Star Is Born.”

Carlos Lopez Estrada, “Blindspotting” (Summit Entertainment)

Mr. Estrada’s Directorial Team:

Assistant Director: La Mar Stewart
Second Second Assistant Director: Dominic Martin
Additional Second Second Assistant Director: Armin Houshmandi

This is Mr. Estrada’s first DGA Award nomination.

Elsie Fisher and Bo Burnham'Eighth Grade' film screening, After Party, Los Angeles, USA - 11 Jul 2018

Elsie Fisher and Bo Burnham

Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Matthew Heineman, “A Private War” (Aviron Pictures)

Mr. Heineman’s Directorial Team:

Unit Production Manager: Louise Killin
First Assistant Directors: George Walker, Peter Freeman (Jordan Unit)
Second Assistant Directors: Tom Mulberge (UK Unit), Tom Browne (Jordan Unit)
Second Second Assistant Director: Tarik Afifi (Jordan Unit)
This is Mr. Heineman’s third DGA Award nomination. He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary in 2017 for “City of Ghosts” and in 2015 for “Cartel Land.”

Boots Riley, “Sorry to Bother You” (Annapurna Pictures)

Mr. Riley’s Directorial Team:

Production Manager: Chris Martin
First Assistant Director: Brian Benson
Second Assistant Director: Hilton Jamal Day
Second Second Assistant Directors: Sam Purdy, Nick Alvarez
This is Mr. Riley’s first DGA Award nomination.

Winners will be announced at the 71st Annual DGA Awards on Saturday evening, February 2, 2019 at the Hollywood & Highland Center’s Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood.

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