The Directors Guild nominations were announced today, honoring excellence in the field of directing, and the honorees run the gamut from Wes Anderson, who’s in the thick of awards talk thanks to his delightfully, exquisitely Wes Andersony-The Grand Budapest Hotel, to Clint Eastwood for American Sniper, a grim drama about a man of few words but many confirmed kills starring Bradley Cooper. Other nominees include such predictable choices as Richard Linklater for his 12-years-in-the-making drama Boyhood, a film so ambitious and beloved it all but dares awards shows not to honor its singular and singularly audacious achievement; Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s attention-grabbing, pseudo-one-shot melodrama Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); and the least high-profile of the group, Morten Tyldum, for the period code-cracking drama The Imitation Game.
Of course, you can’t announce nominations for anything without excluding someone, and in this case the biggest snub is Ava Du Vernay for Selma, the rapturously received Martin Luther King Jr. drama that’s attracted controversy of late over its depiction of Lyndon B. Johnson’s role in the titular march. Had DuVernay been nominated, it would’ve broken up the all-male nature of the roster, which seems particularly egregious considering the nomination for Eastwood, who all but personifies ancient white heterosexual manhood in all its “get off my lawn!” crankiness. American Sniper has emerged as the subject of some controversy itself, after critics doubted the veracity and politics of the memoir upon which it’s based—the late Chris Kyle’s American Sniper: The Autobiography Of The Most Lethal Sniper In U.S. Military History—though Eastwood is always a favorite among the Hollywood establishment, as evidenced by the fact that even now, few people remember him lecturing an empty chair during the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Linklater seems like the man to beat in this category, both because of the almost-universal love his bittersweet coming-of-age-in-real-time heartbreaker has received from critics and audiences alike, and because it represents an audacious experiment, the likes of which has never been attempted before (and certainly not with such transcendent results). Still, it’s likely there are some in the Directors Guild who will prefer Iñárritu’s flashy style to Linklater’s low-key slice of life. When it comes to awards, the winner is often the person who does the most directing/acting/writing, not necessarily the one who does the best, and despite doing some of the best work of his career, Anderson’s a bit of a long shot.
For those keeping score, Anderson, Linklater, and Tyldum are all first-time DGA nominees, while this is Eastwood’s fourth nomination and Iñárritu’s third. The winner will be announced at the 67th Annual DGA Awards dinner on Feb. 7 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.