Carrying On Tradition: DGA Award, Best Director Oscar Discrepancy Continues
Daniel Day-Lewis (l) appears with director Paul Thomas Anderson on the set of "Phantom Thread." (photo by Laurie Sparham/courtesy of Focus Features)
Paul Thomas Anderson earns Academy Award nod for "Phantom Thread" but is not among Guild nominees
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The lion’s share of the time there is at least one difference between the Best Director Oscar and DGA Award nominee lineups. In only five of the 70 years of the DGA Awards have the Guild nominations exactly mirrored their Academy Award counterparts.

This time around Paul Thomas Anderson is in line with that history, earning a Best Director Oscar nomination for Phantom Thread (Focus Features) despite not being one of the DGA Award nominees named a couple of weeks earlier. Four of the five directors for the DGA Award and the Outstanding Achievement in Directing Oscar are in sync this year:  Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight); Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird (A24); Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk (Warner Bros.); and Jordan Peele for Get Out (Universal).

However, while Anderson landed the remaining Oscar nomination, the other DGA nod went to Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight).

On the flip side of tradition, if Anderson were to win the Oscar, he wouldn’t be aligned but rather bucking history. Over the past 69 years, only seven times has the DGA Award winner not gone on to win the Oscar. The most recent such occurrence was in 2013 when Ben Affleck won the DGA Award for Argo while Ang Lee scored the Oscar for Life of Pi.

Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, Phantom Thread introduces us to renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) who are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, débutantes and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love. 

Phantom Thread garnered a total of six Oscar nominations--Best Picture, Director, Leading Actor (Day-Lewis), Supporting Actress (Manville), Original Music Score (Jonny Greenwood) and Costume Design (Mark Bridges).

Anderson has a total of eight career Oscar nominations, two for Best Director--There Will Be Blood in 2008 and now Phantom Thread. As a producer, his Best Pictures Oscar nods are for Phantom Thread and There Will Be Blood. The latter also earned Anderson a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. He also has writing nods for Boogie Nights in 1998, Magnolia in 2000, and Inherent Vice in 2015.

Anderson’s lone career DGA Award nomination came in 2008 for There Will Be Blood.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri garnered McDonagh his first career DGA Award nomination.

McDonagh came into this year with two career Oscar nominations, winning for Best Live Action Short on the strength of Six Shooter in 2006 and an Original Screenplay nominee for In Bruges in 2009. Three Billboards doubled his personal tally of Oscar nods as he’s in the running as a producer for Best Picture, and a writer for Best Original Screenplay.

At the center of Three Billboards is Frances McDormand’s portrayal of Mildred, a grieving mother consumed with rage because the rape, murder and incineration of her teenage daughter has gone unsolved after a year. She rents three billboards on the outskirts of Ebbing, Missouri (a fictional town). Passing motorists read the successive billboard messages which taunt the town’s sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and ask why no progress has been made in the case. Thus begins a quest for justice that is full of anger, sadness, emotion yet is darkly comic as we are introduced to Ebbing, its characters and their stories.

Three Billboards received a total of seven Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Leading Actress (McDormand), Supporting Actors (for both Sam Rockwell--as Deputy Dixon--and Harrelson), Editing (Jon Gregory) and Best Original Music Score (Carter Burwell).

McDonagh released a statement after Three Billboards' strong Oscar showing, sharing, “I’m thrilled that our film has received seven nominations from the Academy, and that the beautiful work of our editor Jon Gregory, our composer Carter Burwell, my gentle brothers-in-arms Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, and our fearless leader Frances McDormand, have all been recognized so wonderfully. I can’t wait to celebrate with them all come March 4th.”

In an earlier installment of this The Road To Oscar series, McDonagh articulated his major takeaway from Three Billboards: “With each film, I’m getting a little more open about not being quite as precious about every comma, every word in the script. That’s something I missed on the previous film [Seven Psychopaths] that’s there in this film [Three Billboards] and my first one [In Bruges]. I’m jumping right in there with the characters to be with them, their pains, hopes and even their capacity for change. I’m not sitting above them like some omniscient film director. I’m in there with the characters. I’m in there fighting with Mildred and Willoughby. To be there doesn’t mean being patronizing. It’s being on everyone’s side, to let the humanity come through.”

This is the 11th of a multi-part series with future installments of The Road To Oscar slated to run in the weekly SHOOT>e.dition, The SHOOT Dailies and on, with select installments also in print issues. The series will appear weekly through the Academy Awards gala ceremony. The 90th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

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