Midnight in Paris
(Sony Pictures Classics)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
(Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

The Artist
(The Weinstein Company)

The Descendants
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

(Paramount Pictures)

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It occurred to me moments ago that Tate Taylor has every reason to, in fact, be nominated for the DGA when they are announced next week. [I didn’t know it because I never saw his Tweet but In Contention’s Kris Tapley came to this conclusion yesterday but recently posted his predictions to include Tate Taylor.  Other than the two of us, though, most people would consider this an upset if it came to pass].

In looking back over Oscar history since the PGA began only one film has ever gotten the PGA, the SAG ensemble and Best Picture and not gotten a DGA nod and that was Lasse Hallstrom for The Cider House Rules.  That film was neck and neck with Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich.  In the end, both directors got Oscar noms but only Jonze got the DGA.  This year, there wouldn’t have been a problem putting both films in the Best Pic category.  The way voting is allows for both.  But we’re still looking at which movie is the Spike Jonze film and which is the Hallstrom. If The Help is the Cider House Rules (I think it’s a lot stronger than that) then another film might take that DGA slot.

At any rate, you can look at the charts below.  But I think there is no reason to not predict Tate Taylor other than the fact that he isn’t well known enough.  The Help is beloved across the board.  It made upwards of $160 million and will be a very strong Best Picture contender.  If it was anyone but an unknown like Taylor there wouldn’t even be a discussion.

The way I look at it is this — the locks are: Martin Scorsese, Hugo – the film I believe to be 2011’s best and one of Scorsese’s best.
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist – a great achievement and delightful experience
Alexander Payne, The Descendants – the height of his brilliant career so far

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The discussion about the great films that entered the Oscar race this year will continue. But we have to stop and pause and acknowledge that yes, something I personally thought was all but impossible is coming true. I said on my last Oscar Poker podcast that if Tom Hooper won the DGA I would quit. The reason being, not out of disgust — it is their choice, their club, their statuette. But because it would show that I learned absolutely nothing in the eleven years I’ve been doing this website. And that is absolutely true: I know nothing.

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The DGA nod meant much to David O. Russell. His film is about second chances, and the director could not help but feel as though this is some sort of second chance for him:

‚ÄúWhen Taylor Hackford called me this morning I have to admit I started to cry . I am so humbled because it is such a talented field this year, I had prepared myself to not be part of it. To be recognized by my peers, moves me beyond words with gratitude and humility. Like boxing, our business doesn’t always give second chances. I’m eternally grateful to Mark Wahlberg for bringing me into this very special project about truly inspiring people like Micky Ward, Dick Eklund, and the families of Lowell; as I am grateful to producers David Hoberman, Ryan Kavanaugh, Todd Lieberman, the phenomenal cast, Paramount, Relativity, and the members of the DGA.‚Äù

And Christopher Nolan was equally surprised and grateful:

“I‚Äôm thrilled that the DGA membership has chosen to nominate me and my DGA
team (Jan Foster, Nilo Otero, Brandon Lambdin, Greg Pawlik, Lauren
Pasternack) for our work on ‘Inception.’ The recognition of our peers is
extremely gratifying – this is an incredible honor.”


Here are your five strongest films for the Best Picture Oscar, 2010.

David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Christopher Nolan, Inception

In anticipation of today’s DGA announcement (ETA, 9am Pacific), it’s time to do a little No Guts, No Glory.

Hopefully, you all have entered our “Predict the DGA” contest. But in the meantime, the DGA seems to be more unpredictable than it has been in years. We really have no idea what five names will be called out tomorrow, and the reason for this is that we have more than five strong Best Picture candidates. Nonetheless, I think it will probably go this way:

David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

That fifth slot is tricky – David O. Russell and Danny Boyle seem like sure bets. Alas, there can only be five. It should surprise no one, though, that my No Guts, No Glory prediction would be:

Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone


On Monday, the Directors Guild, probably the most important guild for determining the Best picture winner, will announce their nominees. Many of you have already entered our predictions contest and it’s true that it feels like there are a few names floating around that seem to have risen to the top.

For most of the 83 years of Oscar history, year after year has backed up the theory that the director is the star of the Best Picture race. Splits happen when the public happens to like one movie over the directors’ choice, and generally, the directors can tend to be more in line with the critics. This isn’t always the case – Jim Cameron won the DGA for Titanic, even though LA Confidential won most of the critics awards. But winning the DGA is one of the most reliable indicators that your film is about to win Best Picture. Is it 100%? Of course it can’t be, nothing really is where the fickle choices of humans are concerned. But I don’t think you can lose if you put your money on the DGA.

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The DGA sends out ballots on November 30. What names do you think might pop up there? At some point in the next several weeks, there will be a solid five emerging. Maybe only four will emerge strong and a fifth will be a surprise. What is always amazing to me is how it all solidifies fairly quickly. With ten Best Picture nominees, the attention shifts somewhat to the director category. We know that it is almost impossible for a film to win Best Picture without a director nod. It seems like it could happen more easily with ten, although the director usually drives the Best Picture race. Nonetheless, a split vote does seem more likely (although not last year). At any rate, the names that float around in my head right now include:

The Strongest on Paper:
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David Fincher, The Social Network
The Coens, True Grit
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan (tough sell, but one never knows)
Terrence Malick, Tree of Life (up in the air)
Clint Eastwood, Hereafter
James L. Brooks, Everything You’ve Got

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