By Dave Karger
Updated January 08, 2009 at 11:41 PM EST
Stephen Vaughan

Has this year’s Best Picture race just gotten really boring or what? Three days after the Producers Guild listed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, and Slumdog Millionaire as its award nominees, the Directors Guild has just cited the same five films in its nomination announcement for best director of the year. So now that David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Ron Howard, Gus Van Sant, and Danny Boyle have made the DGA shortlist, can any film break this quintet’s hold on the five Best Picture slots at the Oscars? A surprise nomination by another film isn’t completely out of the question: Last year The Diving Bell and the Butterfly landed on the DGA and PGA lists but was knocked out of the Oscar race by a film with virually no major guild-award support: Atonement. But there’s no other film this year that even comes close when it comes to across-the-board Academy appeal: Doubt has strong support from the actors branch but doesn’t seem to have gained any traction among below-the-line voters. Some Academy members have been responding strongly to Gran Torino, but the movie was shunned by every major guild. And sorry, Wall-E fans, but your baby seems destined for a Best Animated Feature win.

addCredit(“Stephen Vaughan”)