The Directors Guild of America completed the big trilogy of Guild nominations this week in an attempt to give us a better idea of what and whom may be in line for a shot at Oscar. Unfortunately with the expansion to ten Best Pictures last year, the DGA now basically confirms five of the six or seven films we already figured to be locks. So congrats again to 'The Social Network', 'Inception', 'Black Swan', 'The King's Speech' and 'The Fighter' on their Best Picture nods.

It seems that the fun in Oscar prognostication now is not guessing what will be the five films up for the top prize, but what the other five films will be. Oh, how we love a challenge. Thankfully we still have the old five-nominee categories to kick around a bit. And that includes the challenge of figuring out which of the DGA's choices will still be competing come January 25th. So with Oscar ballots due on the 12th, let's break down how we arrived at this week's rankings...
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Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, Tom Hooper and Christopher Nolan are all DGA nominees. They were also nominated by the BFCA, Golden Globes and the Chicago Film Critics Association. Since 2001, directors who get those four nods are 17-1 in getting an Oscar nomination. The only guy to get snubbed was Baz Luhrmann for 'Moulin Rouge.' Back in 2001. These four should be locks.

That gives us four other directors in the running to consider as nominated by these at least one of these four groups. Chicago's fifth choice was Debra Granik ('Winter's Bone'). In the same time period when going solo, they are 0-for-7 in seeing that choice get an Oscar nomination. Their choices included: Paul Thomas Anderson (2002), Todd Haynes (2002), David Cronenberg (2005), David Fincher (2007), Andrew Stanton (2008), Joel & Ethan Coen (2009), and Spike Jonze (2009).

Danny Boyle ('127 Hours') and the Coens ('True Grit') only got nominations from the BFCA. When they make their Oscar predictions and choose somebody that none of their counterparts eventually do, they go 0-for-4 having chosen Steven Spielberg (2002), Jim Sheridan (2003), Ron Howard (2005), and Sidney Lumet (2007)

That brings us to the fifth DGA nominee, David O. Russell. His name has been mostly absent from consideration, having only been tapped by the Golden Globes and most recently as a runner-up by critics from North Texas. This is a good news/bad news situation for him though. Since 1982, only three times has the DGA matched up 5-for-5 with Oscar (1998, 2005, 2009). But there is also the rarity of the Globes and DGA matching up without BFCA or Chicago agreeing with them. The last time that combo happened was in 2002. It happened to Rob Marshall ('Chicago') and Stephen Daldry ('The Hours.') Oh yeah, and both were nominated for Oscars. If the trend continues this will be the second year in a row where DGA and Oscar matches and the third time in six years.

If the trend continues this will be the second year in a row where DGA and Oscar matches and the third time in six years
So where does Best Picture stand?
There are four films that got the PGA/WGA/DGA trifecta: 'The Social Network', 'Black Swan', 'Inception' and 'The Fighter'. 'The King's Speech' probably would have been the 5th had it not been DQ'd by WGA. That gives us our first five. And we may only have six other films in serious contention.

Since 2006, the Academy has voted in at least one film for Best Picture that failed to get a single nomination from the Big Three Guilds: 'Letters from Iwo Jima' (2006), 'Atonement' (2007), 'The Reader' (2008), and 'The Blind Side' (2009). This year the tag falls to 'Winter's Bone', helped by WGA's disqualification. Had it been nominated for its screenplay, that would have put it in 'A Serious Man' territory from last year, which was the first film to earn just a WGA nod and be nominated for Best Picture since 'Gosford Park' (2001) and 'Chocolat' (2000).
Only two films since 2000 have received just a PGA nomination and have still been nominated. Both were last year ('District 9' & 'Up'). The others were 'Invictus' (2009), 'Walk the Line' (2005), 'The Incredibles' (2004), 'The Last Samurai' (2003), 'Road to Perdition' (2002), 'Shrek' (2001), 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' (2001). This year it's 'Toy Story 3' which is neither here nor there since, like 'Up' and 'The Incredibles' was DQ'd in WGA & DGA.
Then we have the other four: 'True Grit', '127 Hours', 'The Kids Are All Right' and 'The Town'. Each got PGA & WGA noms. Six other films since 2000 have got those two without the DGA support. Only one ('Juno') got a Best Picture nod. Last year's 'Star Trek' did not. The other four were 'Billy Elliot' (2000), 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' (2002), 'Adaptation' (2002) and 'Cold Mountain' (2003). Those hoping the American Cinema Editors will shed some light on the race need not hold their breath. All six of those previous films got ACE nominations.
The streak suggests 'Winter's Bone' would be in. History obviously does not. We are so predisposed to assuming the guilds won't match exactly. But there is still a very real possibility that both DGA & PGA do this year. Let's rank 'em.

BEST DIRECTOR


1. David Fincher ('The Social Network') - 20 victories at this point. More than triple his closest competitor.
2. Christopher Nolan ('Inception') - Has actually won three of the last five critics' awards. Six altogether.
3. Darren Aronofsky ('Black Swan') - And he has won half as many as Nolan.
4. Tom Hooper ('The King's Speech') - BFCA/Globes/Chicago/DGA nominees are 17-1 for Oscar nod. Last shut out in 2001. Top four qualify.
5. David O. Russell ('The Fighter') - Numbers with DGA nominees suggest he has the edge.
6. Joel & Ethan Coen ('True Grit') - 2007 winners could be the ones to sneak in. Or could just be honored in Adapted Screenplay.
7. Danny Boyle ('127 Hours') - 2008 winner could also be making way for 4 first-time nominees.
8. Debra Granik ('Winter's Bone') - Loan Chicago nods are 0-for-7 since 2001.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY