DGA Awards 2018: Oscar frontrunner emerges as virtue signals converge
As you may have noticed, this weekend marked the 70th Directors Guild of America Awards, honoring directorial achievement in feature films, documentaries, television programs, and commercials from the past year.
This Beverly Hills-based ceremony is typically a key indicator for the Academy Awards in March. After all, every winner of the feature film award in the last fourteen years has gone on to claim the corresponding Oscar, save Ben Affleck in 2012.
In light of this, Guillermo del Toro has emerged as the frontrunner for the prize after taking home Best Feature at the DGA for his whimsical period romance The Shape of Water. The Mexican director won in a shortlist including Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird, Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk, Jordan Peele for Get Out, and Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Speaking about his victory, del Toro declared, “We are living in a time that is tremendously difficult, and sometimes the best way to [celebrate] inclusion, and welcoming others rather than fearing them, is with a fable.”
Inclusion and diversity were very much the theme of the evening. DGA President Thomas Schlamme opened the ceremony by acknowledging a cry for justice: “[Men] must speak up. This is not just a fight by women for women. They didn’t create this problem. It’s a fight for everyone for a better world for everyone.” In his address, Schlamme also highlighted that while “changing culture won’t happen overnight . . . an important part of this effort is our continued decades-long fight to ensure the full and fair participation of women and people of color in the director’s chair.”
Meanwhile, Judd Apatow attempted to his opening speech to point out (or virtue-signal) that “only five percent of movies were directed by women in the last ten years. Isn’t that the worst, most embarrassing statistic? When women direct movies you get Lady Bird, Mudbound, and Wonder Woman. When you have male directors you get The Emoji Movie . . . with a character who is a literal piece of shit.”
Despite such statistics, women won three of the television DGA categories, including Beth McCarthy-Miller of Veep for Comedy Directing, Reed Morano of The Handmaid’s Tale for Drama Directing, and Niki Caro of Anne with an E for Children’s-Program Directing.
Back to the big screen, and while del Toro took the evening’s highest honor, Jordan Peele made DGA history by becoming the first director to be nominated in both the Feature Director and First Time Director categories. Get Out cast member Bradley Whitford articulated what an incredible feat it is for “a first-time director, right out of the gate, to arrive with a fully-formed voice that transcends genre.”
Peele added: “Directing Get Out was one of the greatest privileges, experiences, and responsibilities of my life. It was based on the notion that a cry for justice can come in many forms. I think the fact that this cry for justice has been heard is very much a step in the right direction.” For the full list of DGA winners, head over to Deadline.
So there you have it – although we can never confirm one hundred-percent certainty on who’ll be taking home the golden figure at the Oscars, it would perhaps be a wise move for del Toro at least to prepare a speech, given The Shape of Water shaping up for a very strong year.