The 72nd Annual Director’s Guild of America (DGA) Awards took place last night in Los Angeles and crowned Sam Mendes the ultimate winner for the evening, as he was awarded with Best Directing for a feature film. The honor is often an indicator of eventual Oscar success, as highlighted by the fact that nine of the last ten winners went on to win the equivalent award with the Academy.
Mendes’ win is thus now mostly sealed. His domination over the directing race has been a rather uncertain one. Fellow nominee Martin Scorsese looked to be a lock when The Irishman was released back in November, with an upset from Tarantino being the only feasible alternative. As various awards began to be handed out, Mendes pulled out front rather abruptly, with only Parasite’s Bong Joon-ho having any real wins (a tied Critics choice award with Mendes himself). I’m still holding out hope that Bong could pull an upset when it truly matters at The Oscars. He could be this year’s Olivia Colman to Mendes’ Glenn Close. But if I were a betting man, I’d be pretty confident with Mendes.
While being a stunning looking movie, 1917’s true achievement is its cinematography from Roger Deakins, and in all honesty, a win for directing feels rather stale. In a year where the films have involved real discussions between director and his audience (Scorsese and Tarantino’s latest offerings have truly been reflections on their own careers), there would have been something almost poetic if either of them had been awarded. But, it seems like awarding bodies have fallen for the one shot. It shows that when it comes down to it, voters love a showy aesthetic from a showy director.
Mendes wasn’t the only winner last night. Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert took home the Documentary award for Netflix’s American Factory. Look for them to repeat on Oscar night now that Apollo 11 is out of the running. In TV categories, I was thrilled to see Nicole Kassell take home the award for directing of a Dramatic Series for the premiere of Watchmen. There was a real virtuosity to each and every aspect of the show’s look and hopefully the show can have continued success at this year’s Emmys.