The Directors Guild of America announced its nominees for director of the year today. And if the DGA's slate is any indication, the Oscar race for Best Director Oscar, often one of the show's sleepier categories, could be the most combustible in years.
With her DGA nod, The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow looks more and more like the frontrunner heading into the big show. She's already racked up Best Director honors from the Los Angeles and New York Film critics' groups. Those led to the National Society of film Critics crowning her 2009's best, no surprise since the movie world doesn't really acknowledge the existence of an America beyond the Thirty Mile Zone and Manhattan. Bigelow would be the first woman in the 82-year history of the Academy Awards to win Best Director. And we all know how Hollywood loves patting itself on its Armani -padded back for breaking barriers decades after they should have been destroyed (see: Halle Berry, Denzel Washington).
Anyway, Bigelow seems like a delight. The only trouble she might cause at the Kodak Theater would revolve around ex-husband, fellow DGA (and likely Oscar) nominee and King of the World James Cameron (Avatar). Cameron is not exactly known as a sweetheart around the smoggy Burbank backlots. He's even mean to autograph-seeking fanboys! But the man comes along every dozen or so years to drop a box office beast that keeps the rest of Hollywood afloat, so expect his distinctive brand of Canadian megalomania to battle Jack Nicholson's black shades for the ceremony spotlight.
Next we have fidgety chatterbox Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds). When not rambling away as an erstwhile American Idol judge (QT's critiques actually made Paula Abdul's seem cogent) Tarantino likes to show up drunk on Leno for a giant chin-off and proclaim to the world that Brad Pitt, despite denying it, is still a big stoner.
Then we've got Up In The Air's mouthbreathing hoverer Jason Reitman (who made the big mistake of talking smack to a Friend of Tom Ford in front of a Times journalist) and possible borderline abuse-abettor Lee Daniels (Precious) rounding out the field.
Regardless of the winner and whatever catfights ensue on the interminable march to the Oscar podium, this looks to be the most interesting year for Best Director since Roman Polanski came out of left field (and through a satellite feed) to win for The Pianist in 2002.
Speaking of Polanski, the man currently under the most enviable house arrest ever might actually be in La La Land during the ceremony this year!