Among the 17,500-strong industry guild’s Best Director nominees this year are steady competitors Sam Mendes (1917), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Bong Joon Ho (Parasite). Jojo Rabbit helmer Taika Waititi — yet to make as big of a splash on the circuit as the aforementioned foursome — also received a surprise nomination Tuesday afternoon, with many pundits speculating he beat out Joker helmer Todd Phillips for the fifth slot.
The DGA’s announcement comes shortly after the Golden Globes gave Mendes a boost by awarding him with the Best Director and Best Picture prizes at Sunday night’s ceremony, while the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (where Joker received a leading 11 nods) and the Writers Guild of America also announced their annual nominees this week.
In addition to the theatrical feature nominees, the DGA also recognized five filmmakers in its First-Time Feature category, where three women (Atlantics‘ Mati Diop, Honey Boy‘s Alma Har’el, Queen & Slim‘s Melina Matsoukas) received nominations alongside The Last Black Man in San Francisco‘s Joe Talbot and The Peanut Butter Falcon codirectors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz.
With high Academy crossover membership, the DGA has emerged as one of the most reliable Oscar foretellers on the awards circuit. Across the last 20 years, only three DGA winners — Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Rob Marshall (Chicago), and Ben Affleck (Argo) — have failed to translate a DGA victory into a Best Director Oscar win.
Statistically, earning a DGA nod dramatically increases a given filmmaker’s chances at receiving a nomination from the Academy, as each year the guild averages around four nominees that eventually cross over from a DGA nod to an Oscar nod. That statistic has held true every year across the last decade, save for 2010 (all five nominees crossed over), 2013 (only two nominees crossed over), and last year, when DGA nominees Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born) and Peter Farrelly (Green Book) lost out on Oscar nominations to non-DGA nominees Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) and Paweł Pawlikowski (Cold War).
The DGA Awards will be handed out Jan. 25.