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DGA Preview (Predictions/Poll) – Why These Predictions Are Different from Academy’s Director Five

The difference between the DGA and the Academy’s directors branch is inclusiveness vs. exclusivity. Roughly 15,000 people vote for the DGA awards – directors from film and TV, but only about 400 directors vote in the Academy. It’s worth noting the directors branch saw the biggest demographic shift after last year with many more women and specifically women of color being added to its ranks. So who knows how that will manifest itself, but we aren’t there yet.

Thursday morning the DGA will announce their top five. There is a pretty easy rule to follow with the DGA, and that is since the PGA expanded to ten nominees, all five DGA nominees were on that list. So the five names that will show up at the DGA showed up at the PGA already. That should help in terms of predicting wild cards. Wild cards are much more likely to show up with the Academy, where odds names like Ken Loach could suddenly pop up. The DGA, though, that’s a whole different bag. The PGA/DGA connection is solid, at least with their expanded list and ten nominees. When the PGA had five and the DGA had five, you didn’t always have a match.

As far as the ACE goes with relating to DGA, Spotlight of course was an example of that stat failing, and Inglourious Basterds also did not have an Eddie nod, but did have a PGA nod. In the case of Spotlight, it was a movie everyone really loved. In the case of Inglourious Basterds, it was from a very well-known and well-liked director.

Otherwise, the ACE/PGA/DGA combo is pretty rock solid, at least since 2009, though it’s not a very large sample to go from. The other thing to know is that there is only one person who has ever made ACE/PGA/DGA but not the Oscar since 2009 and that’s Mr. David Fincher, whose Girl with the Dragon Tattoo proved too out of the box for the Academy. That’s the only one, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. Predicting that kind of upset is hard though. You have to just make a blind guess that may or may not pay off.

Generally speaking, give or take a Spotlight, the DGA matches with PGA and ACE. So this year, those movies that match ACE/PGA would be:

Manchester by the Sea Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight Moonlight
La La Land La La Land
Arrival Arrival
Hell or High Water Hell or High Water
Hacksaw Ridge Hacksaw Ridge
Deadpool Deadpool

That’s six. We have to dump one. Is there anything that can give us any sort of clarity there? Well, let’s take our frontrunners

La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

That’s three. So we have to now pick two from the remaining three:

Hell or High Water
Hacksaw Ridge

Then let’s look at the films that aren’t ACE nominated but are PGA nominated:

Hidden Figures

What sometimes makes the difference? How well-known a director is. This would apply to people like Martin Scorsese, Stephen Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino. In this case, that’s controversial Mel Gibson. Sure, he has baggage, but Hackaw Ridge is a hell of a film with vivid, brilliant directing. Denis Villeneuve is also very well-known and has been building a solid reputation, especially with last year’s Sicario. I’m inclined to think this will go to Gibson and Villeneuve – but I also think Hell or High Water is incredibly well liked – and one of the big hits of the year.

I would prepare yourselves for the potential of Barry Jenkins to be left off the list. I say this because apparently many people didn’t even watch Moonlight. Though I think he’s a better bet for the Oscar.

I can see the list going this way – and I’m pretty sure I will predict these five:

Damien Chazelle, La La Land-locked
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea-locked
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
David MacKenzie, Hell or High Water

Or it could go:

Damien Chazelle, La La Land-locked
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea-locked
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

And there’s a third option still:

Damien Chazelle, La La Land-locked
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea-locked
David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge


There are many combos to follow – for some reason I really see both David MacKenzie and Mel Gibson getting in. But honestly, I do not know if both will or neither or one or the other. Just a gut feeling. I also have a weird feeling that either Denis Villeneuve or Barry Jenkins will be shut out. Another hunch.

The thing about the DGA is that it predicts what will be named Best Picture pretty well, and you can’t really win Best Picture, or it’s pretty difficult to win, without a DGA nomination. Probably Damien Chazelle is taking this with ease. I don’t know who can beat him at this point.

Deadpool is a film that would have an easier chance getting in as Best Picture if the Academy still used ten slots instead of five, but they don’t. For Deadpool to land a nomination, you have to imagine Academy members listing it among their top five favorites, and many naming it as their number one. It’s improbable, but not impossible. I mean, who knew Deadpool would be performing as well as it has so far this awards season?

Lion or Hidden Figures could pop up here too. Any title on PGA’s list can.

Here is a poll – let us know what you think. Also, please be sure to participate in our predictions contest.

Pick the Five Directors Who Will Be Nominated for the DGA

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