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The DGA Awards delivered feature film nominations Tuesday to Martin Scorsese and five directors previously unrecognized in that category.
Noms went to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for “Babel,” Bill Condon for “Dreamgirls,” Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris for “Little Miss Sunshine,” Scorsese for “The Departed” and Stephen Frears for “The Queen.”
The same five films attracted theatrical nominations from the Producers Guild of America this month, and the absence from both sets of noms of either of Clint Eastwood’s critically lauded films’ might be dimming prospects for the multihyphenate in Oscar’s best picture race. The DGA and PGA awards are considered among the better forecasters of Oscar winners, though neither signaled the Academy’s giving the best picture statuette to “Crash” last year.
“Each of these five nominees has demonstrated a remarkable ability to blend craft and vision in the pursuit of masterful storytelling,” DGA president Michael Apted said. “What makes it truly meaningful to directors is that this award is decided solely by their peers ? the men and women who know firsthand the passion, sweat and fear that goes into creating feature films.”
All the directors except Scorsese were first-time nominees in the feature-film category. It’s the seventh nom for Scorsese, who was awarded the DGA’s lifetime achievement award in 2003.
“Sunshine” represents the first feature-directing credit for Dayton and Faris, who have worked in TV, commercials and music videos. They are only the fourth directorial team to be nominated for the award. The DGA nominated Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for “West Side Story” in 1961; Ken Annakin, Andrew Morton and Bernhard Wicki for “The Longest Day” in 1962; and Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for “Heaven Can Wait” in 1978.
Eastwood’s two films this year ? “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima” ? both involve the World War II battle for Iwo Jima. Observers suggest that industry support might be split between the films, thus preventing either from developing nominations traction.
“Letters” has been considered the more likely to attract noms, if only because it was the most recently unspooled, but an Academy Award nomination for best director now appears the film’s best shot at a prominent statuette. All Academy members decide best picture nominations, but Oscar’s director noms are selected solely by members of the directors branch, comprised of a much narrower spectrum of talent than votes for the DGA Awards.
“Brokeback Mountain” director Ang Lee won the directing Oscar and the DGA’s feature-film award last year, and “Brokeback” also was named best picture by the PGA.
“This awards season, we have seen a number of deserving films recognized with best picture awards and nominations, and ‘Letters From Iwo Jima’ has certainly earned its share of accolades in that select group,” said a spokeswoman for Warner Bros. Pictures, which is distributing the film. “At this point, it continues to be anyone’s game, and our belief in the film remains unwavering.”
Meanwhile, another critically praised picture, Universal/Working Title Films’ “United 93,” also was notably absent from the DGA and PGA noms. The Paul Greengrass-directed film, dealing with one of the Sept. 11 hijackings, has been the best picture selection of a handful of critics groups and figured in numerous year-end top 10 lists.
Nominations in various TV categories of the 59th annual DGA Awards will be announced today and Thursday. Winners in all categories will be announced Feb. 3, when the DGA stages its annual awards gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City.
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