James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver on the Avatar set (Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), James Cameron (Avatar), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), and Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) are the Directors Guild of America’s five nominees for their best motion picture director of 2009 award.
Among those not shortlisted by DGA voters were Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man), Clint Eastwood (Invictus), Peter Jackson (The Lovely Bones), Rob Marshall (Nine), Tom Ford (A Single Man), Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer), Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon), Jane Campion (Bright Star), Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours), Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre), and Lone Scherfig (An Education).
Norman Jewison, 83, whose films include Oscar winner In the Heat of the Night, and Best Picture nominees The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming, Fiddler on the Roof, A Soldier’s Story and Moonstruck, will receive the DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Among Jewison’s other efforts are the Doris Day vehicle The Thrill of It All; The Cincinnati Kid, starring Steve McQueen and Edward G. Robinson; the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar; the controversial Agnes of God, with Jane Fonda and Anne Bancroft; and The Hurricane, with Denzel Washington.
Those who had not been taking Inglourious Basterds (above, with Eli Roth and Brad Pitt) as a serious Oscar contender must now be aware that Tarantino’s World War II revenge fantasy has a pretty good chance of actually winning several Academy Awards — including Best Picture and Best Director. To date, those two fields remain wide open, with no less than four favorites: critics’ pick The Hurt Locker, box office pick Avatar, cult pick Inglourious Basterds, and current-affairs pick Up in the Air.
DGA winners usually go on to win the Best Director Oscar, but there have been several exceptions. The lists of DGA and Academy Award nominees, on the other hand, have matched only four times in the past: 1977, 1981, 1998, and 2005. Last year, Christopher Nolan was nominated for the blockbuster The Dark Knight, but at the Oscars he was replaced by Stephen Daldry for The Reader. Will the Coen brothers or Michael Haneke or Olivier Assayas or Lone Scherfig upset the balance this year?
The Directors Guild will name their television, documentary and commercial nominees on Friday. The awards ceremony will take place on Jan. 30 in Los Angeles, three days before the Oscar nominations are announced.
Photo: Inglourious Basterds (François Duhamel / The Weinstein Co.)