Nate Parker lands surprise Directors Guild nod for best debut

Nate Parker has been nominated for outstanding achievement for a first-time director by the Directors Guild of America.
Nate Parker has been nominated for outstanding achievement for a first-time director by the Directors Guild of America.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - The Directors Guild of America revealed a surprise nominee on Thursday (Jan 12), Nate Parker for outstanding achievement for a first-time director.

This marks a redemption of sorts for Parker, whose awards hopes for his debut film, Birth Of A Nation, were torpedoed when controversy emerged around rape charges he faced and was acquitted of nearly 16 years ago.

In the first-time category, nominations also went to Garth Davis (Lion), Kelly Fremon Craig (Edge Of Seventeen), Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) and Tim Miller, whose satirical superhero film "Deadpool" has been a surprise presence in this year's awards race.

In the main feature film category, the awards season leaders whom everyone already knew were awards season leaders became ever more apparent. The nominees for the top prize are Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Davis (Lion), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea) and Denis Villenueve (Arrival).

Notable omissions are Mel Gibson, for Hacksaw Ridge, and Martin Scorsese, whose awards-hopeful passion project, Silence, received neither a Directors Guild nomination nor one from the Producers Guild, which found room for Deadpool in its nominations list this week.

 
 

Taken with the film's shutout from the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, Scorsese and Silence are all but guaranteed to be ignored in the best picture and best director Oscar races this year. (Academy Award nominations are to be announced on Jan 24.)

Guild awards are given far more weight in the Oscars race than awards from critics or journalists because they represent industry sentiment, and because a huge number of guild members also belong to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The DGA Award nominations capped a busy week that began with the Golden Globes and included nomination announcements from the producers and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which also shares members with the American academy (and is now dealing with a #BAFTASoWhite controversy for picking an all-white slate of acting nominees).

Taken with Golden Globes wins, the guild nominations make clear the calcification of this year's race around the leading contenders, with La La Land more out front than ever.