Directors Guild Nods Offer Last Tease Before Oscar Noms (AWARDS 2020)

The nominees for the Directors Guild of America prize offer up the final tea leaves before the Academy Award nominations.

The 2020 Academy Award winner for Best Director will come from this list of five — and it will most likely be Chloé Zhao.

Hot off of recent wins at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, Zhao led the nominees for the 73rd Annual Directors Guild of America awards. Her front-runner status was initially bolstered by honors from critics groups during the first phase of this year’s elongated, pandemic-delayed Awards Season.

Zhao will be tough to beat, both here and on Oscar night.

She is joined by fellow Asian-American Lee Issac Chung, whose Korean-immigrant indie Minari has continued to gain steam. Further diversifying the DGA slate is Emerald Fennell for her debut film Promising Young Woman. As someone who easily could’ve been relegated to the First-Time Feature Film Director category, Fennell joins Zhao as the 8th and 9th women to receive DGA nominations for the Guild’s top film prize.

David Fincher (Mank) and Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7) round out the nominees.

Fennell likely eked out fellow first-timer Regina King, who was considered a possible contender for her civil rights era historical drama One Night In Miami. Instead, King had to settle for a nod in the First-Time Director competition, which she will likely be favored to win.

The notable omissions: Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods) and Paul Greengrass (News of the World). These two high-profile snubs come one day after their films were also forgotten by the Producers Guild of America. Those one-two punches would seem to seriously diminish the Oscar hopes for both films, ones that were, at one time, considered veritable shoo-ins for the Academy.

Although the DGA winner is often a strong Oscar predictor, it’s not iron clad. Just last year, Sam Mendes took the DGA prize for the war film 1917 only to lose the Oscar to Bong Joon-ho for Parasite.

The 73rd Annual DGA Awards will take place on Saturday, April 10, 2021.

Directors Guild of America
2020 Nominees

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film

  • Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
  • Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
  • David Fincher, Mank
  • Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Outstanding Directorial Achievement for a First-Time Feature Film Director

  • Radha Blank, The 40-Year-Old Version
  • Fernando Frias de la Parra, I’m No Longer Here
  • Regina King, One Night in Miami…
  • Darius Marder, Sound of Metal
  • Florian Zeller, The Father

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentaries

  • Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, Boys State
  • Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, The Truffle Hunters
  • Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, My Octopus Teacher
  • Benjamin Ree, The Painter and the Thief
  • David France, Welcome to Chechnya

Robert B. Aldrich Award (for extraordinary service to the Directors Guild of America and to its membership): Betty Thomas

Frank Capra Achievement Award (given to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager for career achievement): Brian E. Frankish, UPM

Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award (given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager for service to the industry and the DGA): Joyce Thomas, AD

Click on links below for other Critics Group Awards and Guild Nominees that have been announced so far for the 2020 / 21 season:

Producers Guild of America Nominations
Critics Choice Award Winners
Golden Globe Award Winners
Screen Actors Guild Awards Nominations
National Board of Review
National Society of Film Critics
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle
Chicago Film Critics Association
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
New York Film Critics Circle
Boston Society of Film Critics

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