Thursday, January 7, 2010

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The DGA Nominees

And the nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Film by the Directors Guild of America are:

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

I was honestly expecting Neill Blomkamp to show up for his stunning work on District 9. I've long gotten over the pipe dream that Michael Mann (Public Enemies) or Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) are getting any love for their films.

Four of these slots were easy to see. Kathryn Bigelow has been in since her film opened in the Summer. James Cameron has, once again, revolutionized cinema (so I hear -- I still need to see it), so he was a guarantee. Jason Reitman's third is his best, his most mature, his most assured; he was in from the word "go". And Quentin Tarantino made a prestige pic that appealed to the masses.

The only surprise here, then, is Lee Daniels for Precious. Some may see this as predictable, part of the unstoppable Precious train. But come on -- surely I could not be the only one turned off by his flashy excesses? That movie's all about the actors for me. Maybe that's unfair, for certainly Daniels had to have a hand in getting those performances. But the flash, the overlaying dissolves, that bizarre 360-pan with Precious in the classroom, the Two Women reference; must we favor this kind of "Look at me" style over the subtle touch of Jane Campion or Lone Scherfig, the elegiac craftsmanship of Michael Mann, the refreshing choreography of Marc Webb (for his film is like a dance, surely), and on and on. I mean, it could be worse: it could be Clint Eastwood. But le sigh all the same.

Anyway. Congratulations to all of them. I can't wait to see Daniels' Miss Saigon, for musicals are surely where he belongs. Bigelow will win this.


TomS said...

Hi Walter,
Thanks for printing the DGA Nominees. I think you make some excellent points in your analysis. Now I need to get out to more films! I like Precious more than I thought I would; and Up In The Air drew a mixed response. Avatar had some nice visuals, but its succes I think is a triumph of marketing..The Hurt Locker.... such an interesting premise, but I wish it were filmed in a more straightforward style.
The decision should be interesting.

Unknown said...

I wasn't hating on Lee Daniels technique. It's certainly not up to par with the rest of the contenders, but it wasn't all that horrible.

His use of lighting for dramatic effect intrigued me. It worked in Monique's favor because it complimented the rage she was conveying. I doubt people would really pick up on the ruthlessness of her character had Daniels decided not to cast her in shadows (literally).

However, I do agree that sometimes things got a lil glossy, especially with the flashbacks. They seemed displaced in some scenes.