The DGA has unveiled nominees for its 70th Annual DGA Awards in the feature film category as well as for the category for first-time director. The theme of first-timers is clear: Four of the five films in the marquee category are first-time DGA nominees: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird),  Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missiouri) and Jordan Peele (Get Out), the latter of whom made both lists.

The fifth director in the Feature Film race, Dunkirk‘s Christopher Nolan, is up for his fourth DGA Award, but is hoping that this is the first of his DGA nods that also transfers to an Oscar nomination for Best Director, something that has eluded him so far. His previous DGA nominations came for Memento (2000), The Dark Knight (2008) and Inception (2010), but though he was Oscar nominated as producer and writer of the latter, as well as writer of Memento, the Academy’s director branch has always overlooked him. I am predicting that should and will not be the case this year.

With nominations in both categories today, Peele is instantly the front-runner for First Timer. He is only the fourth black director to be nominated for the main DGA honor. Gerwig is also in rarefied air as a female nominee, and while many think Lady Bird was also her first time behind the camera, in fact she shared a co-director credit with Joe Swanberg for 2008’s mumblecore film Nights and Weekends, thus ineligible for recognition in the first-timer category here. It is also interesting that two actors , both basically novice directors helming their own screenplays, managed to get this kind of recognition from the DGA.

With today’s noms the DGA is also showing diversity by nominating a woman, an African American, and Mexico’s del Toro alongside Nolan and McDonagh, both from England.

Most notable among those snubbed today is Steven Spielberg for The Post, a terrific film expected to be a major player this season but one that has inexplicably been absent from key guild awards lists including a shutout at SAG, WGA and now DGA. It was nominated among the 11 films on the PGA list, but then went home empty-handed after six nominations at Sunday’s  Golden Globes. It opens nationwide tomorrow, so perhaps the late-breaking release was a factor. Who knows? Spielberg is a three-time DGA winner, an 11-time nominee and Life Achievement recipient, so perhaps voters thought he had enough in a year where the guild is clearly looking to honor fresh blood. For  Spielberg, it is a shame since The Post represents some of his finest work. He was last nominated for Lincoln in 2010.

(Excerpt) Read More in: Deadline

DGA Awards Nominees: ‘Shape Of Water’, ‘Lady Bird’, ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Three Billboards’, ‘Get Out’

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