DGA to Fincher: Sorry about last year, can we make it up to you?
Now let us just say from the outset that it is possible that Directors Guild of America voters simply liked David Fincher's mesmerizing way with bleakness in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" more than Steven Spielberg's shout-outs to John Ford in "War Horse." Certainly, members didn't share Fincher's sentiments that "Dragon Tattoo" might be just a tad too dark for awards consideration.
But there has to be something more to today's DGA Awards nominations that put Fincher in alongside Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), doesn't there? DGA voters clearly dig Fincher, handing him his third nomination in four years. Of course, they haven't liked him enough to actually give him the award in this category, even last year when most had Fincher winning for "The Social Network." Could this year's nomination be viewed as an attempt to put that whole giving it to Tom Hooper thing behind them? Or could it merely be another signal of a changing of the guard? (Spielberg hasn't been nominated since 2005's "Munich" -- not that he has given voters much reason or occasion to look his way.)
Fincher won't win this year, either. But, taken with the Producers Guild nomination for "Tattoo," it is possible that both he and the movie will now show up among the Oscar anointed. More often than not, four of the five DGA nominees go on to receive Oscar nods. Figuring that Scorsese, Hazanavicius and Payne are locks and that Allen seems increasingly likely to receive his first director's nomination since "Bullets Over Broadway," the question now is: Will the DGA slate sweep in clean with the motion picture academy, as has happened twice in the past decade? Or can Spielberg slip in, aided by the academy's older sentimentalists?
A third option and, admittedly, one that with today's news and previous snubs from the PGA, Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild seems something of a pipe dream, is that academy voters will go the auteur route and nominate Terrence Malick. "The Tree of Life" has its hard-core disciples, but they are vastly outnumbered by those who hit the eject button once the dinosaurs showed up. Oscar prognosticators have long assumed that "Tree" had enough bedrock support to win nominations for picture (provided devotees slotted it No. 1 or No. 2 on their ballots), director and cinematography. Now only director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki seems a safe bet.
-- Glenn Whipp
Photo: Rooney Mara stars in David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Merrick Morton / Columbia TrStar