By John H. Foote
The Directors Guild of America announced their nominations for Best Director of 2021 Thursday, with few surprises, and two record setters.
Steven Spielberg received his 12th nomination for West Side Story, continuing to run up his numbers making him the most nominated filmmaker in the history of the Guild. He has won the award three times previously and stands a strong chance this year. Spielberg has previously been nominated for Jaws (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1998), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E. T. – The Extraterrestrial (1982), The Color Purple (1985), Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler’s List (1993), Amistad (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Munich (2005), and Lincoln (2012), winning in 1985, 1993, and 1998. Over the past five decades, Spielberg has been nominated at least once in each.
Jane Campion is nominated for The Power of the Dog, the second time she has been so nominated, joining Kathryn Bigelow as the only ladies twice nominated for Best Director. Campion previously was nominated for her breathtaking epic The Piano (1993), which won three Academy Awards. Campion was nominated for an Oscar and DGA as Best Director.
Kenneth Branagh was nominated for his black and white personal film Belfast, Denis Villeneuve was nominated for Dune and in a popular choice, Paul Thomas Anderson has been nominated for Licorice Pizza.
The DGA historically has been the best foreshadowing of the Academy Awards Best Director category. Though they have from time to time differed, often they are a five for five match. More than 75% of the time through history, the DGA winner has matched the Oscar winner.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.