Leading up to last night’s DGA Awards, most agreed that if anyone but Birdman director Alejandro G. Iñárritu won the night’s top honor for Best Director in a Feature Film, the Oscar race for Best Picture would remain fairly open. However, that’s not what happened. The Directors Guild of America awarded Iñárritu the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film prize, solidifying Birdman as the new Best Picture frontrunner now that it has the near-unstoppable hat trick of the PGA, SAG, and DGA Awards. Only 8 other films have pulled off this feat (Argo, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Chicago, American Beauty, and Apollo 13), and of those 8 films, only one failed to also win the Best Picture Oscar: Apollo 13, which lost Best Director and Best Picture to Braveheart.
So all of this to say that, statistically speaking, Birdman is now the favorite to take home the big prize at the Oscars over Boyhood, though I actually wouldn’t count out another Best Director/Best Picture split with Boyhood helmer Richard Linklater taking home the director prize. Amidst the aggressive Oscar campaigning that’s been going on, Birdman is the one that’s come out the least scathed, as Boyhood, The Imitation Game, and American Sniper have weathered their fair share of controversies—some valid, some entirely fabricated. The Birdman train has continued to roll right through it all, and the navel gazing comedy is apparently irresistible to those within the industry.
But it ain’t over until it’s over, and I’ll be back next week with a full rundown of the biggest changes in the Oscar race before I post an extended look at my official predictions ahead of the February 22nd ceremony.
And although Iñárritu’s win last night was somewhat of a surprise (most expected Linklater to take it), it wasn’t the most significant thing to happen at the DGA Awards. In an unprecedented move, women swept all of the TV directing categories as well as Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary, marking a welcome change in a industry that’s seemed hell bent on ignoring the work of female directors (ahem Ava DuVernay).
The biggest upset came in the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series category, where Lesli Linka Glatter took home the trophy for the Homeland episode “From A to B and Back Again”, besting Cary Joji Fukunaga’s work on the True Detective episode “Who Goes There” (aka the one with the insane long take). I’m happy to see women being recognized and Glatter is most certainly one of the best directors working in the medium today, but having seen both “From A to B and Back Again” and “Who Goes There”, I’m still not quite sure how you don’t give that trophy to Fukunaga.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary
Laura Poitras, CITIZENFOUR
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama Series
Lesli Linka Glatter, Homeland – “From A to B and Back Again”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series
Jill Soloway, Transparent – “Best New Girl”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Regularly Scheduled Programming
Dave Diomedi, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – “#1”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials
Glenn Weiss, The 68th Annual Tony Awards
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs
Anthony B. Sacco, The Chair – “The Test”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs
Jonathan Judge, 100 Things to do Before High School – “Pilot”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials
Nicolai Fuglsig, MJZ (“Sapeurs,” Guinness; “Waiting,” FEMA)
Lifetime Achievement Award