Alfonso Cuarón got an Oscar boost out of "Gravity," taking the top film prize at 66th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Cuarón, who scored his first career DGA Award, is up for Best Director at the Academy Awards. Historically, the DGA winner has gone on to claim the corresponding Oscar all but seven times since 1948.
Here are three things to consider now that a key part of the awards-season puzzle has been revealed:
1. The so-called Oscar race has not been altered. Just as "12 Years a Slave" has long been considered the Best Picture favorite (by oddsmakers and such), Cuarón has long been considered the Best Director favorite. Cuaraón's DGA win doesn't change the look of the projected split ticket, especially since Cuarón had long been expected to take the DGA (by pundits and such).
2. The DGA-as-Oscar-bellwether line isn't what it used to be. When Ang Lee won the Best Director Oscar last year for "Life of Pi," he became the third director since 2000 to do so without having previously picked up the DGA Award. (In 2013, the Oscar-snubbed Ben Affleck won the DGA Award for "Argo.") Maybe we're in the midst of a statistical fluke. Or maybe we're in the midst of something interesting, where crossover voting between the DGA and the Academy is not enough to generate a rubberstamp.
3. The Paul Greengrass and/or Alexander Payne factor. Greengrass ("Captain Phillips") was up for the DGA Award; he is not nominated for the Best Director Oscar. Conversely, Payne ("Nebraska") was not nominated by the DGA; he is contending for the Academy Award. For what it's worth then, Cuarón did not beat all of his Oscar competition on Saturday night. He did, however, yes, beat most of it, defeating Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave"); David O. Russell ("American Hustle"), and Martin Scorsese ("The Wolf of Wall Street").
'Gravity' Insider Access With Alfonso Cuarón: