The 2009 DGA Nominees

The Directors Guild of America has announced its nominees for best director of 2009. They are:

Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker

James Cameron – Avatar

Lee Daniels – Precious

Jason Reitman – Up in the Air

Quentin Tarantino – Inglorious Basterds

These nominations are a strong indication of who may be nominated for the Oscar. This also might be the most diverse group of nominees in DGA history. It is refreshing that Lee Daniels is nominated after being left off the Golden Globes ballot.

Roger Ebert’s DGA Acceptance Speech

Earlier I posted about the Directors Guild Awards and that critic Roger Ebert was named an honorary guild member. Since 2006, complications with thyroid cancer have affected Ebert’s ability to speak. So instead of speaking at the DGA Awards, his wife read his acceptance speech. It’s such a lovely speech and it is a testament to why Ebert is one of the country’s best critics. Although Ebert has lost his ability to speak, we are fortunate he still writes. His passion is contagious, his knowledge is significant, and his insight into Hollywood is valuable.

Here is his speech:

To begin with, thank you. I am so grateful for this enormous honor. And I am no less grateful that it has been presented by the great director Michael Apted, whose “Up!” documentaries strike me as one of the most noble achievements in film.

The person responsible above all others for the gift of a motion picture is the director. That is why it means so much to be honored by you. In countless ways you have directed my education as a film critic. You have allowed me to hang around on your sets. You have invited me to your locations. I was on the beach with Fellini, in Mexico with Peckinpah, in a Western saloon with Henry Hathaway, in a psychiatrist’s office with Bergman, in Venice with Visconti, beneath Juliet’s balcony with Zeffirelli, at a poker game with Billy Wilder, in Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory with Mel Brooks, and in a Chicago whorehouse with Norman Jewison.

Thinking of tonight’s nominees, I discussed his first film, “Grand Theft Auto” with Ron Howard. I met Chris Nolan and Jonathan Nolan after the premiere of “Memento” at Sundance. Gun Van Sant was willing to discuss the thinking behind his challenging film “Elephant.” I went through David Fincher’s “Fight Club” a shot at a time for a week with students in Boulder, who patiently explained to me why I had completely misunderstood the film. I was able to show Danny Boyle’s “Millions” at my film festival at the University of Illinois.

Of course sometimes my reviews have not been favorable. Robert Altman once told me, “If you never wrote a negative review, what would your positive reviews mean?”
“That’s true,” I said.

“Unfortunately,” Altman said, “in my case, all of your negative reviews have been mistaken.”

In this age when worthless celebrity gossip is replacing serious film criticism, I may be peculiar when I find myself on a set, because I’m usually more interested in the directors than the stars. So many of you have explained things to me, and taught me. I remember Brian de Palma diagramming a shot strategy. Marty Scorsese telling me how when he was a kid, he was fascinated by one single shot in a Michael Powell film that may have led him to become a director.

Werner Herzog and I have been in conversation since the 1970s. He is joining us at our table tonight, along with our Chicago friends Virginia Madsen, Andy Davis and Harold Ramis. Also my stepchildren Sonia and Josibiah.

To all of these people and countless others in the film industry, I owe a debt. You have given me a worthy vocation. When I look at Michael’s great series between “7-Up” and “49-Up,” and follow those lives as they unfold through the years, they lead me to think of the movies as an Empathy Machine.

We are born into a box of space and time, and the movies come closer than any other art form in giving us the experience of walking in someone else’s shoes. They allow us an opportunity to experience what it would be like to live within another gender, race, religion, nationality, or period of time. They expand us, they improve us, and sometimes they ennoble us. They also thrill us and make us laugh and cry, and for that gift, and for this honor tonight, I am very grateful.

2008 DGA Nominees

The Directors Guild of America announced its nominations today. They are:

Paul Thomas Anderson — There Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen — No Country for Old Men
Julian Schnabel — The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Tony Gilroy — Michael Clayton
Sean Penn — Into the Wild

Paul Thomas Anderson and the Coen brothers are frontrunners for the Academy Award. Sean Penn and Julian Schnabel are also likely to be nominated. And finally, Tony Gilroy getting a nomination is fantastic! Michael Clayton, I feel, has not been recognized enough this award season (aside from a few acting nods and the occasional Best Picture nomination).

Tony Gilroy

Martin Scorsese Wins DGA

It is becoming more apparent that Martin Scorsese stands a very good chance to win his first Academy Award, after being passed over on five previous occasions.

This weekend he received the Director’s Guild Award. 51 of the past 57 winners of the DGA go on to win the Academy Award.
Let’s hope that Scorsese is number 52.

Directors Guild Award

Clint Eastwood is the recipient of the 2006 Directors Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award. Eastwood has previously received lifetime achievement awards from the American Film Institute, the Film Society at Lincoln Center and SAG, among others. He also has been honored with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Eastwood is being recognized for his distinguised career behind the camera which includes two Academy Awards for Best Director.

As one of the most prolific, versatile directors in the history of the medium, there isn’t a genre that Clint Eastwood hasn’t mastered in the more than 25 films he has directed over the past 35 years,” DGA president Michael Apted said. “His ongoing body of work continues to touch generations of moviegoers and bring huge audiences into movie theaters. He does it all with great class, intelligence and style.”

Eastwood will be honored at the 58th annual DGA Awards on January 28.

This award is more prestigious than other lifetime achievement awards. The honor was first presented in 1958 to Cecil B. DeMille and has only been presented 31 times. Other recipients of the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award include Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, Billy Wilder, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra and John Ford. Most recently, Mike Nichols was honored in 2004.

Eastwood’s Unforgiven received the DGA Award for directorial achievement in 1993 as well as four Academy Awards, including Best Director. He was again nominated for the DGA Award and Academy Award for directing in 2004 for Mystic River.

Congrats to Clint Eastwood who still has it.