“Birdman” helmer Alejandro González Iñárritu won the Directors Guild of America's (DGA) award for best direction of a motion picture Saturday night, effectively firming up his film's march into the Oscars later this month. The Michael Keaton comedy also took top honors from both the Producers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild. With the DGA prize it joins films like “Argo,” “The King's Speech,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “No Country for Old Men,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “Chicago,” “American Beauty” and “Apollo 13” as the only films to pull off the hat trick. Only one of those, “Apollo 13,” failed to win the Best Picture Oscar.
So it's more or less settled, right? I confess, coming into the industry awards phase of the season, I didn't expect “Birdman” to dominate like this. And maybe that was ultimately its secret weapon. Everyone had their eyes on “Boyhood.” Then “The Grand Budapest Hotel” came on strong with guild nominations and became a talking point as a surprisingly dominant element. All along, “Birdman” has just been what it's always been: a critically acclaimed, production-heavy, solid contender that few expected – well, I'll just speak for myself there – to outpace the rest. And yet that's exactly what it's doing.
You won't get any complaints out of me. This is my favorite film of the year. And now the already-building backlash will sink its teeth all the way in. But the writing is right there in front of all of us and it doesn't look like anything can derail the train at this point.
Naturally, though, the Best Director race won't necessarily turn out like the DGA race did. Different set of people, different set of opinions and politics. There is a lot of love for Richard Linklater out there and he could still get a well-deserved Oscar for “Boyhood.” Actually, the great thing about “Birdman,” “Boyhood” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is that their directors are each nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing at the Oscars. So there is a definite opportunity to spread the wealth, and I think few would have a big problem with that.
Either way, this has pretty definitively become “Birdman's” to lose. What I can't quite wrap my head around is how the film can win Best Picture but not, as the punditry (myself included) would presume, Best Actor. Or maybe that situation is more complex than many of us expect as well.
Elsewhere at the show, and probably most notable of all, four female directors took home prizes, three of them in the TV categories and the fourth in documentary. Additionally, it was announced that next year the DGA will institute an award for first-time filmmakers.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary
Laura Poitras, “CITIZENFOUR”
(Television winners on the next page.)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series
Lesli Linka Glatter, “Homeland” – “From A to B and Back Again”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series
Jill Soloway, “Transparent” – “Best New Girl”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series
Lisa Cholodenko, “Olive Kitteridge”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Regularly Scheduled Programming
Dave Diomedi, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” – “#1”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials
Glenn Weiss, “The 68th Annual Tony Awards”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs
Anthony B. Sacco, “The Chair” – “The Test”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children's Programs
Jonathan Judge, “100 Things to do Before High School” – “Pilot”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials
Nicolai Fuglsig, MJZ (“Sapeurs,” Guinness; “Waiting,” FEMA)
Lifetime Achievement Award