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2023 DGA Nominations Include ‘Top Gun,’ ‘TÁR,’ but Women Directors Shut Out of Top 5

"Aftersun" and "Saint Omer" also scored nominations in the First-Time Feature Film Director Category.

Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

“Top Gun: Maverick”

Paramount Pictures

The Directors Guild of America has announced the nominations for its two film categories at the upcoming 75th annual DGA Awards.

While “The Fabelmans” director Steven Spielberg getting into the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film category a second year in a row was the most expected outcome, the rest of the list calls for a longer conversation about how the Guild has shown unexpected progress and unfortunately expected regression.

After two years in a row where a woman director won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film (“Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao in 2021 and “The Power of the Dog” director Jane Campion in 2022), the guild did not even nominate a single woman in the category this year. Though it was a predictable outcome as the most likely candidates, “Women Talking” director Sarah Polley and “The Woman King” director Gina Prince-Bythewood, both have films that have overall not racked up as many awards wins as Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” or Todd Field’s “TÁR” so far, the exclusion still stings. It took over 80 years for a woman to win the Best Director Oscar, and another decade for it to happen again, so the loss of momentum here in the DGA Awards nominations stirs up worries about if consideration of women directors is back on the decline.

What is trending upwards though, as proven by the nomination of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” filmmakers Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, is consideration of director duos. Historically, the guild has made it difficult for two people to even get joint directing credit on a project, asking that the pair apply to qualify as an exception to the organization’s “One Director To a Film” rule through the union’s Western Directors Council. With their second feature, Kwan and Scheinert may have proven that the guild is past their bias against co-directors, as they usually only reserved two names to one nomination for projects directed by siblings like the Coen brothers (winners in 2008 for “No Country for Old Men”).

As far as the most telling surprise in the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film, the last nod going to director Joseph Kosinski is confirmation that “Top Gun: Maverick” is a real contender for more than just Best Picture. Many had “Avatar: The Way of Water” director James Cameron pegged for a nomination slot thinking his work may eclipse the work of other filmmakers who made well-reviewed blockbusters in 2022, the same way his film’s box office numbers are currently rising above the rest of the year’s releases, but the guild nomination make “Top Gun: Maverick” seem like it has caught the attention of more voters across the board.

Moving on to the Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director for 2022, the guild happened to nominate four women directors, so there is still the thought to uplift more female filmmakers in some fashion. This year’s group is very international with France’s Alice Diop (“Saint Omer”) and Audrey Diwan (“Happening”), Croatian filmmaker Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic (“Murina”), and Scottish director Charlotte Wells (“Aftersun”) all receiving a nomination. Not only is “Emily the Criminal” director John Patton Ford the only man in the category this year, he is also the only American. Though the move more falls in line with the Academy’s recent tastes, it does call into question how much the guild is overlooking Black American filmmakers. For example, “The Inspection” director Elegance Bratton and “Nanny” director Nikyatu Jusu are two first-time filmmakers that ended the year with high honors from multiple international film festivals, but did not make the cut with DGA Awards film nominations.

“The work recognized this year represents the amazing power of film in the hands of these gifted directors to tell deeply moving stories that profoundly affect us all. The recognition by one’s peers in our highly collaborative creative process shows the heart and soul at the core of these films and we congratulate all five nominees for their powerful stories, brilliantly told,” said Directors Guild of America President Lesli Linka Glatter via statement.

While it is always good to see a growing variety of nationalities within the list, and more consideration for the growing number of director duos, the DGA Awards nominations could do well next year keeping race and gender inclusion more top of mind if the guild wants to fully be reflections of the positive changes being pushed upon the film industry.

The 75th Annual DGA Awards will take place Saturday, February 18 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

See below for the full list of film nominees, and click here for the TV and Documentary nominations.

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film for 2022

Todd Field, “TÁR” (Focus Features)
Joseph Kosinski, “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount Pictures)
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)
Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight Pictures)
Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director for 2022

Alice Diop, “Saint Omer” (Neon Rated)
Audrey Diwan, “Happening” (IFC Films)
John Patton Ford, “Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions/Vertical)
Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic, “Murina” (Kino Lorber)
Charlotte Wells, “Aftersun” (A24)

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