The Nearly Annual DGA Award, Best Director Oscar Discrepancy Continues
Director Todd Phillips (l) and DP Lawrence Sher, ASC on the set of "Joker." (photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)
Todd Phillips earns Academy Award nomination for helming "Joker" but is not among Guild nominees

The awards season norm has seen the nearly annual emergence of at least one difference between the Best Director Oscar and DGA Award nominees lineups. In only five of the 72 years of the DGA Awards have the Guild nominations exactly mirrored their Academy Award counterparts.

This time around directors Todd Phillips and Taika Waititi are in line with that history. Phillips earned his first career Best Director Oscar nod for Joker (Warner Bros.) but was not among DGA Award nominees. Waititi, who didn’t make the Oscar cut, earned a DGA Award nomination for Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight).

Four of the five directors vying for the DGA Award and the Outstanding Achievement in Directing Oscar are in sync this year: Bong Joon Ho for Parasite (Neon); Sam Mendes for 1917 (Universal); Martin Scorsese for The Irishman (Netflix); and Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Hollywood (Sony Pictures).

On the flip side of tradition if Phillips were to win the directorial Oscar, he wouldn’t be aligned with but rather bucking history.  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.

Even sans a DGA Award nomination, it’s been a stellar awards season for Phillips whose Joker garnered 11 Oscar nominations, the most of any film this year. Phillips is nominated in three categories--Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay (with Scott Silver). Joker is also nominated for Best Lead Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), Cinematography (Lawrence Sher, ASC), Costume Design (Mark Bridges), Film Editing (Jeff Groth) , Original Score (Hildur Guonadottir), Makeup and Hairstyling (Nicki Ledermann, Kay Georgiou), Sound Editing (Alan Robert Murray) and Sound Mixing (Tom Ozanich, Dean Zuipancic, Tod Maitland).

Upon news of the 11 Academy Award nods, Phillips said, ““Joker began as an idea, an experiment really--could we take an ‘indie approach’ to a studio film by inverting it into a character study to reflect the world around us? Explore what we’re seeing and feeling in society, from the lack of empathy to the effects of the absence of love. I am deeply honored by the overwhelming recognition of the Academy.” Phillips went on to “thank the genius that is Joaquin Phoenix, and all my incredible collaborators. We are beyond humbled that our peers in the filmmaking community have embraced the film and its message.” 

And while Waititi didn’t score a Best Director Oscar nomination, he too fared well in the Academy Awards derby as Jojo Rabbit earned six nominations. Waititi is nominated in two categories, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Jojo Rabbit also received Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Scarlett Johansson), Costume Design (Mayes C. Rubeo), Film Editing (Tom Eagles) and Production Design (production designer Ra Vincent, set decorator Nora Sopkova).

Waititi said he was “humbled” by Jojo Rabbit’s six Oscar nominations. “Thank you to the Academy for embracing Jojo Rabbit and its message. My congratulations and thanks go to the entire cast and crew.”

(Editor’s note: Waititi directs commercials and branded content via production house Hungry Man.)

This is the 14th of a 16-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 92nd Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, Calif.,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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