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Joan Rivers + Lesbian Family Drama + Gay Ghost: Sundance + First Female DGA Winner

Sundance Movies: The Romantics Anna Paquin Josh Duhamel. College buddies celebrate weddingSundance movies: Anna Paquin and Josh Duhamel in The Romantics. As usual, the upcoming Sundance Film Festival will screen numerous world premieres; one of them is writer-director Galt Niederhoffer’s The Romantics, an ensemble piece featuring Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Anna Paquin, Josh Duhamel, Katie Holmes, Adam Brody, and Elijah Wood.

Sundance movies: ‘The Romantics’ & ‘The Kids Are All Right’ among entries

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

The Romantics, The Kids Are All Right, and It’s a Wonderful Afterlife are three recently announced world premieres to be screened out of competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Here is a bit more information about these Sundance movies:

  • Writer-director Galt Niederhoffer’s The Romantics sounds like a younger-leaning The Big Chill: a group of former college buddies reunite to celebrate the wedding of two of their friends. The Romantics features an ensemble cast that includes Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner Anna Paquin (The Piano, 1993), Josh Duhamel, Katie Holmes, Adam Brody, Malin Ackerman, Elijah Wood, Jeremy Strong, Dianna Agron, and veteran Candice Bergen (five-time Emmy winner for the long-running television series Murphy Brown and Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for the 1979 romantic comedy Starting Over).
  • Directed by Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a lesbian couple whose lives are turned upside down after they are contacted by the biological father (Mark Ruffalo) of their two children (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson).
  • Like The Romantics, Gurinder Chadha’s It’s a Wonderful Afterlife – according to the Sundance press release, “with nods to Frank Capra, ghost stories, murder mysteries, and screwball comedies” – also revolves around the issue of matrimony. In this particular West London setting, a traditional Indian mother wants her “aging” daughter to tie the knot – fast; however, mysterious deaths and busybody ghosts interfere. It’s a Wonderful Afterlife features Shabana Azmi, Sendhil Ramamurthy, and Sally Hawkins.

Below is a partial list of other Sundance 2010 premieres of various sorts (world, international, North American, U.S.).

Sundance movies: Premieres

Abel / Mexico, USA (Director: Diego Luna) – Cast: Jose Maria Yazpik, Karina Gidi.

The Company Men / USA (Dir./Scr.: John Wells) – Cast: Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Rosemarie DeWitt.

The Extra Man / USA (Director: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini) – Cast: Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, Katie Holmes.

Get Low / USA (Director: Aaron Schneider) – Cast: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black.

Jack Goes Boating / USA (Director: Philip Seymour Hoffman) – Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan.

The Killer Inside Me / USA (Director: Michael Winterbottom) – Cast: Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Simon Baker, Elias Koteas.

Nowhere Boy / United Kingdom (Director: Sam Taylor Wood) – Cast: Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Thomas Sangster, Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey.

Please Give / USA (Dir./Scr.: Nicole Holofcener) – Cast: Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Keener.

The Runaways / USA (Dir./Scr.: Floria Sigismondi) – Cast: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Tatum O’Neal.

Shock Doctrine / USA (Director: Michael Winterbottom & Mat Whitecross).

Twelve / USA (Director: Joel Schumacher) – Cast: Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts.

Cyrus / USA (Dir./Scr.: Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass) – Cast: John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener.

Joan Rivers A Piece of Work: Hilarious vs obnoxious comedian public persona vs private lifeJoan Rivers: A Piece of Work. One of the documentaries to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Annie Sundberg’s Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work portrays the discrepancies and similarities between the public persona and the private life of hilarious/obnoxious (depending on one’s take) comedian/talk show hostess Joan Rivers.

Joan Rivers & Benazir Bhutto documentaries: Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary movie line-up

Among the Sundance 2010 U.S.-made documentaries are Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, described as a “brutally honest” look into the public persona and private life of big-mouthed entertainer Joan Rivers, and Duane Baughman and Johnny O’Hara’s Bhutto, which depicts the life and times of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated in 2007.

Bhutto (Director: Duane Baughman & Johnny O’Hara).

Casino Jack and the United States of Money (Director: Alex Gibney).

Family Affair (Director: Chico Colvard).

Freedom Riders (Director: Stanley Nelson).

Gas Land (Director: Josh Fox).

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (Director: Tamra Davis).

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (Director: Ricki Stern & Annie Sundberg) – A rare, brutally honest glimpse into the comedic process and private dramas of legendary comedian and pop icon Joan Rivers.

The Oath (Director: Laura Poitras).

Restrepo (Director: Sebastian Junger & Tim Hetherington).

A Small Act (Director: Jennifer Arnold).

Smash His Camera (Director: Leon Gast).

12th & Delaware (Director: Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing).

I’m Pat Tillman / The Tillman Story (Director: Amir Bar-Lev).

Waiting for ‘Superman’ (Director: Davis Guggenheim).

World Cinema Documentary movie line-up

Among the Sundance 2010 international documentaries are Nicolas Entel’s Sins of My Father, in which Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is remembered through the eyes of his son, and Christian Frei’s Space Tourists, about billionaires leaving Planet Earth just for the fun of it.

A Film Unfinished / Germany, Israel (Director: Yael Hersonski).

Enemies of the People / Cambodia, United Kingdom (Director: Rob Lemkin & Thet Sambath).

Fix ME / France, Palestinian Territories, Switzerland (Director: Raed Andoni).

The Red Chapel (Det Røde Kapel) / Denmark (Director: Mads Brügger).

Russian Lessons / Russia, Georgia, Norway (Director: Olga Konskaya & Andrei Nekrasov).

Secrets of the Tribe / Brazil (Director: José Padilha).

Sins of My Father / Argentina, Colombia (Director: Nicolas Entel).

Space Tourists / Switzerland (Director: Christian Frei).

Waste Land / United Kingdom (Director: Lucy Walker).

Spotlight – Documentaries

8: The Mormon Proposition / USA (Director: Reed Cowan).

Climate Refugees / USA (Director: Michael Nash).

Countdown to Zero / USA (Director: Lucy Walker).

Teenage Paparazzo / USA (Director: Adrian Grenier).

New Frontier sidebar

All My Friends Are Funeral Singers / USA (Dir./Scr.: Tim Rutili) – Cast: Angela Bettis.

Double Take / Germany, Netherlands (Director: Johan Grimonprez) – Alfred Hitchcock is unwittingly caught up in a double take on the cold war period. As television hijacks cinema, and Khrushchev debates Nixon, sexual politics quietly take off and Hitchcock himself blackmails housewives with brands they can’t refuse. Cast: Mark Perry, Ron Burrage.

Memories of Overdevelopment / USA (Dir./Scr.: Miguel Coyula) – Cast: Ron Blair.

Park City at Midnight

7 Days / Canada (Director: Daniel Grou) – Cast: Rémy Girard, Claude Legault.

Buried / Spain, USA (Director: Rodrigo Cortes) – Cast: Ryan Reynolds.

Frozen / USA (Dir./Scr.: Adam Green) – Cast: Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers.

High School / USA (Director: John Stalberg Jr.) – Cast: Sean Marquette, Matt Bush, Michael Vartan.

Splice / France, Canada (Director: Vincenzo Natali) – Cast: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley.

Sundance James Franco Allen Ginsberg Howl: Sexually explicit poem politically incorrect + obsceneJames Franco as gay poet Allen Ginsberg in Howl. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl is described as a “nonfiction drama” about gay poet Allen Ginsberg, who, at age 29, wrote the poem “Howl” (1954–1955) considered both politically incorrect (before the expression was even invented) and obscene. Here’s one bit: “… who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman’s loom….” A free speech trial ensued in 1957.

James Franco as gay poet Allen Ginsberg + Michelle Williams & Ryan Gosling: Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Competition

Sundance Film Festival 2010 will be showcasing 16 entries in the U.S. Dramatic Competition movie line-up; these were selected from 1,058 submissions. Each film is a world premiere.

Notable entries among Sundance 2010’s U.S.-made titles include these two dramas in which sex plays an important role:

  • Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl, starring James Franco as gay poet Allen Ginsberg. Besides Franco – who looks like a (quite a bit) more handsome version of the young, bespectacled Ginsberg – the Howl cast includes Best Actor Oscar nominee David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck., 2005), Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeff Daniels.
  • Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, a romantic-psychological drama starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling as a married couple going back and forth in time, tracing the sweet old days gone sour. Shades of Stanley Donen’s Two for the Road (1967), starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.

The World Cinema Narrative Competition movies were selected from 1,022 international submissions. Notable entries include Javier Fuentes-León’s Peruvian-set Undertow / Contracorriente, a ghost story revolving around a conflicted married fisherman and his male lover, and Chris Morris’ political comedy Four Lions, starring Riz Ahmed.

See below a partial list of the Sundance 2010 film line-up.

U.S. Dramatic Competition

Blue Valentine (Director: Derek Cianfrance) – Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel.

Douchebag (Director: Drake Doremus) – Cast: Andrew Dickler, Ben York Jones, Marguerite Moreau.

The Dry Land (Dir./Scr.: Ryan Piers Williams) – Cast: Ryan O’Nan, America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama.

happythankyoumoreplease (Dir./Scr.: Josh Radnor) – Cast: Malin Akerman, Josh Radnor, Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan, Tony Hale, Pablo Schreiber, Michael Algieri.

Hesher (Director: Spencer Susser) – Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Devin Brochu, Piper Laurie, John Carroll Lynch.

Holy Rollers (Director: Kevin Tyler Asch) – Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha.

Howl (Dir./Scr.: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman) – Cast: James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels.

The Imperialists Are Still Alive! (Dir./Scr.: Zeina Durra) – Cast: Élodie Bouchez, José María de Tavira.

Lovers of Hate (Dir./Scr.: Bryan Poyser) – Cast: Chris Doubek, Heather Kafka, Alex Karpovsky.

Obselidia (Dir./Scr.: Diane Bell) – Cast: Gaynor Howe, Michael Piccirilli, Frank Hoyt Taylor.

Skateland (Director: Anthony Burns) – Cast: Shiloh Fernandez, A.J. Buckley, Ashley Greene, Brett Cullen.

Sympathy for Delicious (Director: Mark Ruffalo) – Cast: Orlando Bloom, Mark Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney.

3 Backyards (Dir./Scr.: Eric Mendelsohn) – Cast: Embeth Davidtz, Edie Falco, Elias Koteas.

Welcome to the Rileys (Director: Jake Scott) – Cast: James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo.

Winter’s Bone (Director: Debra Granik) – Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Garret Dillahunt.

World Cinema Narrative Competition

All that I Love / Poland (Dir./Scr.: Jacek Borcuch) – Cast: Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Jakub Gierszal, Mateusz Banasiuk.

Animal Kingdom / Australia (Dir./Scr.: David Michôd) – Cast: Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver.

Boy / New Zealand (Dir./Scr.: Taika Waititi) – Cast: Taika Waititi, James Rolleston.

Contracorriente / Undertow / Colombia, France, Germany, Peru (Dir./Scr.: Javier Fuentes-León) – Cast: Cristian Mercado, Manolo Cardona, Tatiana Astengo.

Four Lions / U.K. (Director: Chris Morris) – Cast: Riz Ahmed, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay.

Grown Up Movie Star / Canada (Dir./Scr.: Adriana Maggs) – Cast: Shawn Doyle, Tatiana Maslany, Jonny Harris, Mark O’Brien.

The Man Next Door (El Hombre de al Lado) / Argentina (Dir./Scr.: Mariano Cohn & Gastón Duprat) – Cast: Rafael Spregelburd, Daniel Aráoz.

Me Too (Yo, También) / Spain (Dir./Scr.: Álvaro Pastor & Antonio Naharro) – Cast: Pablo Pineda, Lola Dueñas, Antonio Naharro.

Son of Babylon / Iraq (Director: Mohamed Al Daradji) – Cast: Yasser Talib, Shazda Hussein.

Southern District (Zona Sur) / Bolivia (Dir./Scr.: Juan Carlos Valdivia) – Cast: Ninón del Castillo, Pascual Loayza, Nicolás Fernández.

The Temptation of St. Tony / Estonia (Dir./Scr.: Veiko Õunpuu) – Cast: Taavi Eelmaa, Rain Tolk.

Vegetarian / South Korea (Dir./Scr.: Lim Woo-seong) – Cast: Chea Min-Seo, Kim Hyun-Sung.

Spotlight Narrative

Bran Nue Dae / Australia (Director: Rachel Perkins) – Cast: Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Geoffrey Rush.

Daddy Longlegs / USA (Dir./Scr.: Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie) – Cast: Ronald Bronstein, Sage Ranaldo.

Enter the Void / France (Dir./Scr.: Gaspar Noé) – Cast: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy, Emily Alyn Lind, Jesse Kuhn.

I Am Love (Io sono l’amore) / Italy (Dir./Scr.: Luca Guadagnino) – Cast: Tilda Swinton, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Pippo Delbono, Alba Rohrwacher, Marisa Berenson.

Lourdes / Austria, France, Germany (Dir./Scr.: Jessica Hausner) – Cast: Sylvie Testud, Léa Seydoux, Bruno Todeschini.

Mother & Child / USA (Dir./Scr.: Rodrigo García) – Cast: Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson.

The Tunnel / South Africa (Dir./Scr.: Jenna Bass) – Cast: Sibulele Mlumbi, Finch Moyo.

A Prophet (Un Prophète) / France (Director: Jacques Audiard) – Cast: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup.

Sundance 2010 U.S. and World Dramatic, and Spotlight – Narrative movie line-up information via the festival’s website.

Image of James Franco as Allen Ginsberg in Howl via the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Passage from “Howl” via the Poetry Foundation.

Kate Mara Josh Radnor Happythankyoumoreplease
Kate Mara, Josh Radnor in Happythankyoumoreplease.

Jan. 30 update: Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s Restrepo, David Michod’s Animal Kingdom, and Mads Bruegger’s The Red Chapel were the four top jury prize winners at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone chronicles a teenage girl’s difficult passage to full-fledged adulthood in the rural Ozarks, while the documentary Restrepo follows a group of American soldiers in war-torn Afghanistan. In the Australian drama Animal Kingdom, starring Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Luke Ford, and Joel Edgerton, a Melbourne crime family reaches a crisis point, while in the documentary The Red Chapel Danish filmmaker Brueggers takes a quirky look inside mysterious North Korea.

Audience awards for American productions went to actor-writer-director Josh Radnor’s New York-set comedy Happythankyoumoreplease and to Davis Guggenheim’s documentary Waiting for Superman, which gives an “F” to the American public schools system. The foreign winners were Peruvian writer-director Javier Fuentes-Leon’s sexually charged ghost story Contracorriente / Undertow and British filmmaker Lucy Walker’s Waste Land, which offers a portrait of Brazilian artist Vik Muniz’s photographic project featuring recycled-garbage pickers in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

The best US directors were Eric Mendelsohn for the slice-of-life narrative feature 3 Backyards and Leon Gast for the documentary Smash His Camera, about yesteryear paparazzo Ron Galella. World Cinema best director winners were Bolivian Juan Carlos Valdivia for Southern District, about a privileged family trying to cope with the changing times, and Swiss Christian Frei for Space Tourists, a documentary about wealthy people who pay loads of money to become a sort of space cadets.

The Waldo Salt awards for screenwriting went to Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini for Winter’s Bone and to Juan Carlos Valdivia for Southern District.

Sundance 2010 special jury prizes went to the following: Sympathy for Delicious, directed by Mark Ruffalo and written by Christopher Thornton, who starred as a recently paralyzed DJ hooked on faith healing (Orlando Bloom plays a rocker in this one); Josh Fox’s documentary GasLand, about the effects of natural gas on air and water; and Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath’s Enemies of the People, a chronicle of Cambodia’s troubled modern history.

Additionally, Tatiana Maslany won a special jury prize for breakout performance for her precocious teenager in Adriana Maggs’ Grown Up Movie Star.

The cinematography awards went to Zak Mulligan for Diane Bell’s Obselidia; Kirsten Johnson and Laura Poitras for Poitras’ documentary The Oath; Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat for their Argentinean drama about warring neighbors, The Man Next Door; and Kate McCullough and Michael Lavelle for Ken Wardrop’s Irish documentary His and Hers.

Editing awards went to Penelope Falk for Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s US documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work and Joelle Alexis for Yael Hersonski’s German/Israeli documentary A Film Unfinished.

The Best of Next award (for films made for less than $50,000) went to Todd and Brad Barnes’ screwball comedy Homewrecker, the story of a romantic ex-con locksmith written by the brothers Barnes and Sophie Goodhart. The eight filmmakers taking part in this category voted for the winning film.

Other winners were Diane Bell’s Obselidia, which took the Alfred P. Sloan prize for a feature film with a scientific or technology theme; and Jeremy Konner’s Drunk History: Douglass and Lincoln and Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland’s The Six Dollar Fifty Man in the short films categories.

U.S. Documentary Competition Jury: filmmakers Greg Barker, Dayna Goldfine, Morgan Spurlock and Ondi Timoner, and Wired senior editor Nancy Miller

U.S. Dramatic Competition Jury: novelist Russell Banks, producer Jason Kliot, director Karyn Kusama, actress Parker Posey, cinematographer Robert Yeoman

World Cinema Documentary Competition Jury: documentarian Jennifer Baichwal, PBS correspondent Jeffrey Brown, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival director Asako Fujioka

World Cinema Dramatic Competition Jury: writer/director Alison Maclean, Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum, producer Sigurjon Sighvatsson

Shorts Competition Jury: filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, Wholphin DVD editor and cofounder Brent Hoff, Killer Films chief Christine Vachon

Photos: Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival.

The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow
The Hurt Locker.

DGA Awards: Kathryn Bigelow first woman winner & ceremony focus on gender

Jan. 31 update: Perhaps it’s a good thing that the Directors Guild Award ceremony wasn’t televised. TV audiences were spared having to listen to Quentin Tarantino say “both my testicles were totally tingling through the whole thing,” following Brad Pitt’s introduction to his Inglourious Basterds director.

Or The Hurt Locker‘s Jeremy Renner saying – and I’m partly quoting The Wrap’s Steve Pond’s tweet here – that “the only thing to rival Kathryn Bigelow in a bikini is ‘[openly gay director] Lee Daniels in a one-piece.’” Lee Daniels one-upped Renner with an even more tasteless crack, telling Kathryn Bigelow: “Your movie is as beautiful as your legs. You make me question my sexuality.”

Comments abounded on Bigelow’s looks – in other words, on the fact that she’s a woman. Had she been a handsome guy, I wonder how many remarks would have been made about his physical attributes. And how many male directors and presenters would be publicly questioning their sexuality.

On a positive note, James Cameron has apparently learned that in the Oscar race, humble and/or funny speeches (learn from Sandra Bullock) rank higher than what’s on screen. According to Steve Pond, who was at the DGA Awards’ press room this evening, the Avatar filmmaker was “Mr. Humble, paying tribute to the other nominees: ‘unutterably different’ from each other, & how can you choose?”

My choice would have been Kathryn Bigelow. For one, I’m sure Bigelow made no remarks about presenter Brad Pitt’s tight ass and didn’t make any jokes about questioning her sexuality after looking at presenter Jodie Foster’s gams. I’m also quite sure she made no stupid jokes about how pretty former husband James Cameron would look in a ballerina’s tutu.

“This is the most incredible moment of my life,” Bigelow said upon accepting her award. “And on that note, I will disappear.”

If only the others had said as little as beautifully.

Note: All quotes in this post came from Steve Pond’s tweets.

The Hurt Locker‘s Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to win the Directors Guild Award for narrative feature. The Iraq War drama can now be officially be considered the front runner in the Oscar race: last week, it won the 2010 Producers Guild Award as well. It has also won most film critics’ awards to date.

Bigelow’s fellow nominees were Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds, Lee Daniels for Precious, James Cameron (Bigelow’s former husband) for Avatar, and Jason Reitman for Up in the Air.

Among the other winners were Louie Psihoyos’ for The Cove and Ross Katz for the television movie Taking Chance, which has earned Kevin Bacon best actor awards from the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Since 1950, only six DGA winners have failed to win the best director Oscar. See the DGA vs. Academy Awards.

Jan. 30

The five nominees for the 2010 Directors Guild Award are Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, James Cameron for Avatar, Lee Daniels for Precious, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air, and Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds. The likely winner?

Following the Producers Guild Award going to The Hurt Locker (box-office gross: less than $13 million) instead of Avatar (box-office gross: more than $560 million), chances are that Kathryn Bigelow will beat former husband James Cameron at the DGA Awards. Although Cameron’s film is as much a director’s movie as Bigelow’s, she is the one who has been getting nearly all the best director awards to date. (The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe for Cameron was a glaring exception. And one should remember that Golden Globe voters idolize box office hits.)

If there’s to be a surprise when the DGA Award winner is named this evening, I’d say it would be a victory for Quentin Tarantino.

If Bigelow wins, she’ll be the first woman in the DGA’s history to receive the Guild’s Award for narrative features. She’ll also be the one to beat at Oscar time. Since 1950, all but six* DGA winners have gone on to win the best director Academy Award.

* The DGA’s 1948 winner, Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter to Three Wives, won the 1949 best director Academy Award. The 1949 DGA winner, Robert Rossen, was nominated that year for All the King’s Men.

Photo: The Hurt Locker (Jonathan Olley / Summit Entertainment).

U.S. Military in Iraq & Dolphin Slaughter: Producers Guild (PGA) Awards

After James Cameron’s best director upset at the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild of America one-upped the Hollywood Foreign Press Association by choosing not the blockbuster Avatar, but Kathryn Bigelow’s independently made Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker (above, top photo) as the best film (or best producers) of the year. Bigelow, screenwriter Mark Boal, Nicholas Chartier, and Greg Shapiro are the film’s credited producers. Expect Bigelow to win the 2010 Directors Guild Award next Saturday as well.

Louie Psihoyos’ The Cove (above, lower photo) and Pete Docter’s Up won in, respectively, the best documentary and best animated feature categories. The Cove, which exposes the slaughter of dolphins at a cove near the fishing town of Taiji, Japan, has already won most Best Documentary awards this season.

Up received excellent reviews upon its release, and now that the Oscars have 10 Best Picture slots it may end up as the second animated feature ever to get an Oscar nomination in that category. (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was the first, back in 1991 – or early 1992, when the nominations were announced.) Up was also one of 2009’s biggest blockbusters and was in the running for the Producers Guild’s Best Picture award.

Grey Gardens won the longform television award. Directed by Michael Sucsy, the drama stars Jessica Lange and Golden Globe and SAG Award winner Drew Barrymore.

Their film’s Producers Guild win was great news for the Hurt Locker team. Just yesterday at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Jeremy Renner lost the best actor award to Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart – admittedly, no big surprise – but much more damning, the film’s cast lost SAG’s ensemble award to Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

In fact, things began looking more than a little grim for The Hurt Locker after its double loss to Avatar at the Golden Globes last week. Although it’s true that Hollywood Foreign Press Association voters and Academy Award voters are two very distinct groups, all the hoopla surrounding Avatar‘s surprise wins – best picture (drama), best director for James Cameron – surely caught the attention of Academy members.

The Hurt Locker‘s PGA victory is particularly surprising because the producers tend to like bigger and/or more popular fare, e.g., Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ Little Miss Sunshine, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. When they go for “art” films, they pick those that found lots of critical favor and solid box office returns as well, e.g., Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men, Brokeback Mountain.

The Hurt Locker earned about $12 million at the domestic box office, or just a million or so more than its reported production costs.

Next Saturday, the Directors Guild will select its winners. The Hurt Locker‘s Kathryn Bigelow is the clear favorite unless the DGA decides to give us another awards season upset.

Check out: DGA Awards Make History.

Anna Paquin and Josh Duhamel The Romantics image: Falcon Films.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work image: Break Thru Films.

“Joan Rivers & Lesbian Family Drama + Gay Ghost: Sundance + First Female DGA Winner” last updated in August 2019.

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Anne Jameson -

Oscar night was a HUGE disappointment for several reasons: 1) Giving Kathryn Bigelow cudos in their furvor for overlooking women in the past for a “Not Best Picture Of The Year” in many opinions, including mine. 2) Overlooking & snubbing a continuing & amazing Director & Best Picture of the Year which of course is Avatar & it’s brilliant creator! AND 3) Leaving Farrah Fawcett out of the Memorandum part of the show. Michael Jackson (?) who has made only one movie & is more music than actor??? What were they thinking or were they EVEN THINKING!

Sue Thomason -

I had a letter published in Cosmo magazine 22 years ago on this very same subject. Nothing has changed in all those years. So much for progress!

It’s so shameful.

amenajari dormitoare -

avatar will win most of the Oscars, but i don’t believe it is the best movie of the year… it’s only something new

DBke -

Thanks for the article. It’s so demoralizing, but people like you are standing up for all of us saying this junk won’t be taken any more. It’s just inelegant, let alone sexist. It’s the stuff of losers.

whatever -

Hurt locker sucks.
Avatar should have won… this is just as stupid as Slumdog Millionare winning at the Academy Awards. Notice how bad that movie was?


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