I’m not saying this is 100% true but much of the time I allow myself to believe that award-season blogaroos are the guiding, ever-watchful shepherds (the first-responder brigade at the festivals, and then the word-of-mouth spreaders as this or that film catches on) and the guild and Academy members are the flock. Because it’s statistically undeniable that if the blogaroos — specifically the members of Gold Derby and Gurus of Gold — show respect for a film or a directing job or a performance in the early stages by ranking it among the top five, six or seven contenders, eight times out of ten (notice I didn’t say nine times out of ten) the guilds and Academy members will nominate those films for their top trophies.
The bottom line is that the blogaroos and the Oscar-season strategists (Taback, Swartz, Bush, et, al.) more or less run the prestige stakes in this town (or at least that portion of Hollywood that aspires to quality filmmaking and the winning of award-season honors) like the Earp brothers ran Tombstone.
I’m mentioning this because Hell or High Water‘s David Mackenzie wasn’t named as one of the five nominees for this year’s DGA feature film award, and yet Lion‘s Garth Davis was. I met Davis the other night at a gathering on Sunset and he’s a very nice guy, but Lion is at best 55% or 60% of a good film. 55% covers the mostly dialogue-free beginning with the little lost kid plus Dev Patel reuniting with his mom at the finale, and 45% covers the dead middle section (i.e., the Australian family stuff with Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara).
Hell or High Water, on the other hand, is a flat-out American masterpiece — a dead-bang triumph that gets better and more searing every time you see it, and if you ask me it’s a scandal — a scandal! — that Davis was nominated instead of MacKenzie.
The reason this happened, I believe, is that too many of the blogaroos (even myself — I waited too long to get on the train) defaulted to their default bullshit mentality by saying to themselves that MacKenzie’s bank-robbing drama was very well done and all but it wasn’t really and truly an award-season film because it opened domestically on August 12th.
This is almost certainly on the blogaroos. They did this. If they’d been jumping up and down about HOHW from the get-go, the guilds and the Academy would have most likely sniffed the air and gone “yeah, they’re right, this is a really good film and deserving of nominations.” I’m not saying this definitely would have happened but that it probably would have.
The other four Directors Guild of America nommies — La La Land‘s Damien Chazelle, Moonlight‘s Barry Jenkins, Manchester By The Sea‘s Kenneth Lonergan and Arrival‘s Denis Villeneuve — were more expected and locked-down.
The champ will be announced at 69th Annual DGA Awards on 2.4.17 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.