Here's an impressive statistic: Out of the 64 years that the Director's Guild of America (DGA) has been handing out their top honor, they’ve only differed from their Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (AMPAS) brethren six times. Just as impressive, the film associated with that director has won Best Picture all but 13 times. So to put it mildly, the DGA award is historically the best Oscar predictor around! This year the guild has nominated five former Oscar winners with four of them winning for directing and the fifth one earning his in the screenwriting category. Regardless these are five distinctly different filmmakers being recognized for five completely different films. Here's a closer look:
The 65th Annual DGA Awards Dinner will take place on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in the Hollywood and Highland Center
First Feature Film as Director: Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Number Of Feature Films Directed: 3
Trademark Films: Gone Baby Gone, The Town
You have to give Ben Affleck a lot of credit as he is a shining example of how to bounce back from possible career ruin. After winning the Best Screenplay Oscar (alongside pal Matt Damon) for Good Will Hunting, Affleck was on a steady acting roll until 2003 when the bottom seemingly fell out. Affleck's relationship with Jennifer Lopez sent his career into a tailspin and it wasn't until 2007 that he began to finally dig out from under the "Bennifer" baggage. Following critical acclaim for his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone and then again with follow-up The Town, Affleck finally seems poised to break through this year courtesy of Argo, which would be a crowning achievement for the now very bankable star.
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty, Columbia
First Feature Film: The Loveless (1982)
Number Of Films Directed: 9
Trademark Films: Point Break, K-19 The Widowmaker, The Hurt Locker
The biggest complaint about the Oscars (next to its extremely long run time) is the lack of diversity. The DGA's aren't that much better especially regarding female nominees as like its Academy counterpart, only one woman (Bigelow) has ever won. Following her breakthrough film The Hurt Locker, the talented filmmaker cemented herself as a major award contender and this year's Zero Dark Thirty is a prime example of why! Bigelow's style has always been more raw and real which are two things voters will look to reward time after time. While some have questioned the accuracy of information given to Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal by their government sources, both stand by their work which normally (and very capably) speaks for itself.
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables, Universal
First Feature Film: Red Dust (2004)
Number Of Feature Films Directed: 4
Trademark Films: The King's Speech
Better known as a television director for most of his career Tom Hooper eventually transitioned into feature films and won both the 2010 DGA award and Oscar for his American directorial debut, The King's Speech. Immediately following those wins Hooper launched in on the latest film adaptation of Les Miserables and as a result quickly found himself back in the thick of award season. Aside from the effort involved with the sheer spectacle of bringing Les Mis to the screen, Hooper made the decision to have his actors sing live and not rely on "sweetening" techniques in post-production. For the most part the move worked and Hooper's go-for-broke style was again on full display.
First Feature Film: Pushing Hands (1992)
Number Of Feature Films Directed: 12
Notable Actors Worked With: Emma Thompson, Heath Ledger, Chow Yun-Fat
Trademark Films: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hulk, Brokeback Mountain
Of the four previous winners, Ang Lee is the only one who didn't see his film go on to win Best Picture. In fact Brokeback Mountain's loss to Crash, remains one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history. Lee's avant-garde style has always appealed to the Academy and that was clearly evident in 2000 when his hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became a big critical and box office surprise. Lee's nomination this year for Life Of Pi is more of a call back to his Tiger/Dragon days, which means he won't face half the barriers that held Brokeback Mountain back from a win.
(20th Century Fox)
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln, DreamWorks
First Feature Film: The Sugarland Express (1974)
Number Of Feature Films Directed: 27
Notable Actors Worked With: Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise
Trademark Films: Jaws, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park
If you don't know about the vast career of Steven Spielberg then the odds are pretty good you probably clicked on this article by accident! Spielberg is a film icon whose name automatically conjures up images of the loveable extra-terrestrial E.T., the adventurous Indiana Jones and the pure "what-if" wonderment that inhabits a number of his films. However there is another side to Spielberg that breaks away from fantasy and focuses on fact. After the haunting drama Schindler's List, Spielberg elevated himself to a new platform where all of a sudden his movies weren't just works of fiction. Schindler's List netted Spielberg his first Oscar and five years later Saving Private Ryan earned him his second (despite the film itself being upset by Shakespeare In Love). The DGA voters have been just as good to the talented director if not better as he's won three awards and could be in line for a fourth with Lincoln, which is now solidly a frontrunner for Best Picture.
The winner will be revealed during the 65th annual DGA Awards dinner on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.