The 67th Directors Guild of America Awards (DGA) took place Saturday evening and may have firmly cemented Birdman as the film to beat at the upcoming Academy Awards. The DGA Awards hold the distinction of being the oldest and most reliable bellwether for the Oscars, so when director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s name was called at the end of the evening, there likely was a collective sigh of relief on the part of Birdman‘s distributor, Fox Searchlight Pictures. Iñárritu beat out a field that consisted of Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and widely perceived frontrunner Richard Linklater (Boyhood.)
To put Iñárritu’s win into perspective, throughout it’s 67-year history the DGA winner then went on to receive the Academy Award for best director 48 times, and had their film win the best picture Oscar. Also, the DGA winner has won the directing Oscar without winning best picture only 10 times – the other 9 occasions resulted in odd years. That gives Iñárritu and Birdman a distinctive edge, coupled with the film’s recent triumphs at the Producers Guild Awards and the SAG Awards. Yet, on the same token, the last few years have provided some of the more anomalous occurrences in the Oscar race. For instance last year, Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) won both the DGA Award and the Oscar for best director, while 12 Years a Slave won best picture. The year before Ben Affleck won the DGA Award for Argo, and wasn’t even nominated in the corresponding category at the Oscars (Argo still won best picture). The point is, all stats come with asterisks.
Iñárritu was previously nominated by the DGA Awards for directing the 2006 feature Babel (he also received an Oscar nomination for that film), and won in 2012 for directing the Proctor and Gamble “Best Job” commercial. When accepting the prize, the Mexican born filmmaker stated, “Making a film that’s good, it’s war and we have to survive it. If it is considered a great film, it has nothing to do with me. It’s a miracle.” Iñárritu will face off against Tyldum, Anderson, Linklater and Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) for the best director Academy Award in two weeks.
Check out the full list of DGA Award winners below:
BEST DIRECTOR OF A FEATURE FILM: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
- Unit Production Managers: James W. Skotchdopole, Robert Graf
- First Assistant Director: Peter Kohn
- Second Assistant Director: Amy Lauritsen
- Second Second Assistant Director: Catherine Feeny
- Location Manager: Joaquin Prange
BEST DIRECTOR OF A DOCUMENTARY: Laura Poitras, Citizenfour