Oscar season ramps up as DGA, PGA, & WGA nominations arrive

The Oscars may be nearly two months away, but the anticipation for the annual celebration of cinema and celebrities is already heating up. On the heels of the SAG award nominations on January 12 and a plethora of craft guild nominations since then, the DGA (Directors Guild of America), PGA (Producers Guild of America), and WGA (Writers Guild of America) released their nominations for their respective specialties.

Aside from artists honoring their peers for their work, these nominations also serve as important bellwethers for the Academy Awards. For instance, the DGA winner has gone on to win the Best Director Academy Award 64 out of 72 years both groups have been in existence. The most recent divergence was 2019, when Sam Mendes, the DGA winner for 1917, lost out to Bong Joon-ho for Parasite. Similarly, the PGA and WGA winners usually dictate which film will triumph in those categories at the Oscars.

Directors Guild of America award nominations (Film)

Belfast (Kenneth Branagh)

Dune (Denis Villeneuve)

Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)

The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion)

West Side Story (Steven Spielberg)

The DGA is typically more friendly to foreign-language filmmakers than the Academy, so there was some speculation Ryusuke Hamaguchi, director of one of 2021’s most acclaimed films Drive My Car, could sneak in. Alas, the DGA stuck with the expected five nominees, all of whom have been nominated before (with Spielberg the only winner among them). Campion is a widely admired filmmaker, having helmed such modern classics as 1993’s The Piano and 2013’s Top of the Lake, so she’ll be the one to beat for this honor and the Best Director Oscar.

Anita dances with Bernardo on a crowded street in West Side Story.

Producers Guild of America award nominations (Film)

Being The Ricardos (Todd Black)

Belfast (Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik, and Tamar Thomas)

CODA (Fabrice Gianfermi, Philippe Rousselet, and Patrick Wachsberger)

Don’t Look Up (Adam McKay and Kevin Messick)

Dune (Cale Boyter, Mary Parent, and Denis Villeneuve)

King Richard (Will Smith, Tim White, and Trevor White)

Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, Sara Murphy, and Adam Somner)

The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, Iain Canning, Roger Frappier, Tanya Seghatchian, and Emile Sherman)

Tick, Tick…BOOM! (Lin-Manuel Miranda and Julie Oh)

West Side Story (Kristie Macosko Krieger and Steven Spielberg)

Expected nominees No Time to Die and Spider-Man: No Way Home didn’t make the cut, which significantly dampens the possibility of those films earning a surprise Best Picture nomination. There’s no obvious front-runner among the nominees like last year’s Nomadland, with passionate support split between Belfast, CODA, The Power of the Dog, and West Side Story.

Paul walks with his head down near a lake in the 2021 film Dune.

Writers Guild of America award nominations (Film)

Best Original Screenplay:

Being the Ricardos (Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin)

Don’t Look Up (Story by Adam McKay and David Sirota; Screenplay by Adam McKay)

The French Dispatch (Story by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman; Screenplay by Wes Anderson)

King Richard (Screenplay by Zach Baylin)

Licorice Pizza (Screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

CODA (Screenplay by Sian Heder)

Dune (Screenplay by Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts, and Denis Villeneuve)

Nightmare Alley (Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro and Kim Morgan)

Tick, Tick…BOOM! (Screenplay by Steven Levenson)

West Side Story (Screenplay by Tony Kushner)

While most of these nominations were expected, three Oscar front-runners (Belfast, The Lost Daughter, and The Power of the Dog) were ineligible due to the guild’s complicated guidelines for award consideration. As a result, the writing categories are less reliable predictors than other guilds, allowing under-the-radar movies like Nightmare Alley and Tick, Tick…BOOM! to be recognized.

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