Oscar Race Shapes Up With “Dune” & “Licorice Pizza” Leading DGA & WGA Nominations

The Oscar race clarified a bit yesterday, with some clear frontrunners emerging from the pack. Oscar voting began in earnest, while four of the most influential guilds delivered their own nominations. The Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, and the American Cinema Editors delivered their lists, giving some shape to the race ahead. The DGA and WGA nominations specifically help define the pack of Oscar hopefuls.

The only two films that were selected by all four groups were Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic Dune and Paul Thomas Anderson’s coming-of-age story Licorice Pizza. Not far behind was Kenneth Branagh’s deeply personal Belfast, and Jane Campion’s austere, gut-punch of a western The Power of the Dog

For the DGA, Villeneuve, Anderson, Branagh, and Campion were joined by Steven Spielberg for West Side Story. The DGAs serve as a relatively stable predictor for which films will be nominated for a best picture Oscar since the category was expanded beyond five films. Only David Fincher’s DGA anointed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo failed to garner a best picture nomination back in 2011.

Campion is only the second woman ever to receive a second nod from the DGA. She last earned one for her work on The Piano in 1993, which led her to become the second woman ever nominated for a best director nomination at the Oscars. Campion’s one of eleven women to be recognized by the DGA after last year saw two women earn nominations with Chloé Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennel for Promising Young Woman.

The DGA has another category for first-time feature directors, introduced in 2015. This year, there’s no overlap between the DGA’s two categories. Interestingly, of the six nominees, four directed films for Netflix:

Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Lost Daughter (Netflix)

Rebecca Hall – Passing (Netflix)

Tatiana Huezo – Prayers for the Stolen (Netflix)

Lin-Manuel Miranda – Tick, Tick… Boom! (Netflix)

Michael Sarnoski – Pig (NEON)

Emma Seligman – Shiva Baby (Utopia)

Meanwhile, the WGA nominations for both original and adapted screenplays included scripts from a slew of heavyweights; Aaron Sorkin, Adam McKay, Wes Anderson, Tony Kushner, and Guillermo del Toro were all nominated. Here’s the breakdown:

Original Screenplay:

Being the Ricardos (Amazon Studios) – Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Don’t Look Up (Netflix) – Screenplay by Adam McKay, Story by David Sirota

The French Dispatch (Searchlight Pictures) – Screenplay by Wes Anderson, Story by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola & Hugo Guinness & Jason Schwartzman

King Richard (Warner Bros) – Screenplay by Zach Baylin

Licorice Pizza (MGM/United Artists Releasing) – Screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson

Adapted Screenplay:

CODA (Apple Original Films) – Siân Heder

Dune (Warner Bros) – Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth

Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) – Guillermo del Toro, Kim Morgan

Tick, Tick … Boom! (Netflix) – Steven Levenson

West Side Story (20th Century Studios) – Screenplay by Tony Kushner

If you’re curious who the biggest snubs were from both the DGA and WGA lists, they have to be Joel Coen for his masterful work on The Tragedy of Macbethand Mike Mills for his tender drama C’mon C’mon. As strong of a predictor as the DGA and WGA nominations are, they are not, alas, the final say. We’ll get that picture of what the Oscar nominations are announced on February 8.

Featured image: Caption: (L-r) ZENDAYA as Chani and TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures


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