Mostly familiar names marked the Directors Guild of America’s announcement Tuesday of its nominees for its annual DGA Award, traditionally a strong predictor of Oscar success. This year’s nominees were led by Clint Eastwood (”Mystic River”), who won 11 years ago for ”Unforgiven”; Peter Jackson, earning his third consecutive nomination for a ”Lord of the Rings” installment; Sofia Coppola (”Lost in Translation”), whose father, Francis Ford Coppola, won for each of the first two ”Godfathers” in the 1970s; Peter Weir (”Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”), who has been nominated three times before, most recently for 1998’s ”The Truman Show”; and DGA Award newcomer Gary Ross (”Seabiscuit”).
Since its inception in 1949, the DGA list has almost exactly matched the list of Academy Award nominees for Best Director, and only six times has failed to predict the ultimate Oscar winner. (One such time was last year, when DGA winner Rob Marshall, director of ”Chicago,” lost the Oscar to ”The Pianist”’s Roman Polanski.) Ross, perhaps the least expected name on the list, helps keep ”Seabiscuit”’s faltering Oscar hopes alive. Coppola is only the fifth woman ever to be nominated for the award and the first since Jane Campion (”The Piano”) a decade ago. (The DGA also nominated ”Seven Beauties” helmer Lina Wertmuller, ”Children of a Lesser God”’s Randa Haines, and ”The Prince of Tides”’ Barbra Streisand. The Academy has nominated only two women, Wertmuller and Campion.)
The DGA Award winner will be named at a banquet Feb. 7 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. That event will also see the DGA give a lifetime achievement award to director Mike Nichols, who won a competitive DGA Award and an Oscar in 1967 for ”The Graduate,” and whose most recent project is HBO’s ”Angels in America.”