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The DGA Nominees. Other directors still blind to the genius of Todd Haynes

Weep with me now my fellow people of good taste for the continual shunning of Todd Haynes at awards shows. Save one. Haynes will always have the Independent Spirits as loyal cheering squad. They've miraculously nominated him for his direction on every single one of his feature films.

Yes well before even the bulk of cinephiles realized he was going to be a legendary filmmaker. They nominated him for his strange triptych debut (Poison) and his then quite divisive/confounding but now universally admired sophomore effort ([safe]) and they've been true ever since. I bring this up to quench the tears and prepare for the worst on Thursday in case Carol is barely acknowledged which is what usually happens with Todd Haynes films on Oscar nomination morning. Even Far From Heaven (2002), his biggest hit, got a weak 4 nominations despite having the kind of "Spectacular Spectacular!" craftsmanship that at least nets filmmakers Moulin Rouge! honors (nope - Far From Heaven was stiffed in both Art Direction and Costumes. Hilarious to contemplate but true.) 

The Academy's directing branch is much more exclusive in numbers and arguably more sophisticated than the much larger voting body of the directors guild, but it's best to lower expectations; the world is often a mysteriously cruel place! Nevertheless it's frustrating that an auteur as singular and consistently wondrous as Todd Haynes has trouble getting honors from peers. He's in good company at least. Great artists in every field throughout time have had to decades for people to catch up with their greatness. Sometimes it didn't even happen until after they died. Remember that Alfred Hithcock never won a Directing Oscar and Douglas Sirk, one of of Todd Haynes's greatest influences, was never even nominated for one. Curiously Sirk, who specialized in the melodrama (those are often about women and you know how Oscar feels about women's pictures - Ewww!) was nominated by the DGA once, for Imitation of Life but an Oscar nomination did not follow. Generally Oscar will boot one of the DGA nominees for someone else but since they haven't gone 5/5 for awhile we're probably due for another year of exact crossover. 

We should probably talk about the actual nominees not just one of our all time favorite auteurs. So let's do that after the jump...

Some people around the web -- never me - though that Iñárritu backlash post the 3 wins for Birdman (2014) would prevent a big run for The Revenant (2015). The backlash is only in the head of the internet since the Academy has ALWAYS loved Iñárritu. Like Haynes with the Spirit Awards, when it comes to 'Alej G' -- hey-- Oscar is reliably interested. And they were even when  he made them read subtitles. Every single one of Iñárritu's pictures has been Oscar nominated for something or other, even the Mexican ones. So expect a healthy tally for The Revenant on Thursday morning to finish out it's amazing week (huge box office & Globe dominance).

The internet has been annoyed with The Revenant's constant "we almost died. we were cold. we went without wi-fi. we suffered for our art" campaigning so I had a good laugh at this tweet this morning...



It suddenly had me reimagining Carol's campaign via Bring It On because nothing cheers the exhausted by the patriarchy soul up faster than a little Bring It On, you know? 


  • Alejandro GIñárritu - The Revenant (3 previous DGA nominations with 2 wins, one for commercial direction)
  • Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
  • Adam McKay - The Big Short
  • George Miller - Mad Max Fury Road 
  • Ridley Scott - The Martian  (3 previous DGA nominations)

Other than Ridley and Alejandro these are first timers for the DGA. It's tough to say who might win: The Globes say Iñárritu; Lifetime achievement says Scott; actual directing achievement says McCarthy or Miller; and McKay gets the "so happy to be nominated!" honors for graduating from silly but beloved comedies like Anchorman. 



  • Fernando Coimbra - A Wolf at the Door
  • Joel Edgerton - The Gift
  • Alex Garland - Ex Machina
  • Marielle Heller - The Diary of a Teenage Girl
  • László Nemes - Son of Saul

This is a new category and a welcome one. Wonderful to see Garland and Heller (an actual woman with a camera. omg) represented. 

This list also reminds us that if there's a "shock" on Oscar morning it could be László Nemes who just picked up a Globe for his Holocaust drama about a Hungarian Sodderkomando in the concentration camps who becomes obessed with the dead body of a young boy. Nemes's uncomfortable claustrophic drama is expected to be the frontrunner for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. 

Further Reading: Nathaniel's Votes for Best Director
Oscar Predictions: Updated Best Director Chart

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Reader Comments (42)

Brazil's a wolf at the door!!

I wonder if Brazil shoul've indicated this movie instead of The Way He Looks

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarcello

It's bad enough that Todd Haynes was snubbed, but he wasn't even snubbed for directors who were comparably good (Lenny Abrahamson, Olivier Assayas, Sebastian Schipper, Sean Baker -- I know some are obscure by anyone's standard but still). He is omitted for dullards like Ridley Scott, Adam McKay and Alejandro Inarritu (whose best days seem further and further in the past). I'm no great fan of George Miller's or Todd McCarthy's work either. What started out as a promising awards season is getting drearier and drearier

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Am I allowed to love both "Carol" and "The Revenant" at the same time?!

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commentertherealmike

Disappointing but not a total surprise.
Fans of Todd Haynes you should note that Speilberg, Tarantino, and Danny Boyle also got left off this very short list. Last September they were considered to be major possibilities. Not even huge box office won a nomination for Ryan Coogler (Creed), or JJ Abrams.
Directors of Brooklyn, Room, and Carol (women's films) were all given a miss but it's a male dominated guild so not a surprise.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

therealmike -- sure, why not? Me laughing at their very crass awards campaign should not be miscontrued as me saying people should hate the picture. I didn't love it but i get why people like it. FTR i've been on record often at saying the Carol campaign for Rooney Mara is crass and opportunist and i hate it.

but campaigns are not their movies (thankfully)

ladyedith -- the difference being they've been rewarded before and for lesser work than what Haynes turned out this year. (sigh)

January 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm here to vent about Haynes not getting nominated.


Thank you.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Zitzelman

I predicted Haynes will be snubbed by the Oscars and the DGA nominees makes it look almost a done deal.

My biggest fear is that Carol will be snubbed in other major categories like Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress etc.

Given its complete shut out at the Globes and PGA - it is a very real possibility that It won't get nominated for Best Picture.

It is a wonderful Oscar worthy film so the only reason I can think of its poor performance at awards shows to date is the subject matter.

I think its best we prepare ourselves for the worst ...and none of this Carol getting 9 nominations nonsense.

Sorry - I just don't want to be tearing my hair out on Thursday morning and screaming at the Academy...AGAIN.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

I think The Revenant peaked too late actually. I have a feeling Inarritu is going to be left out of best director. Hoping for a 2012 lineup, where Oscar booted the two most popular ones and just went with pure quality.

My personal director ballot
- Haynes, CAROL
- Villeneuve, SICARIO
- Miller, MM: FURY ROAD
- Schipper, VICTORIA

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Bette Streep-

Yeah it's always best to prepare yourself for the worst when it comes to something you love.
At the very very very least it will get a Best Actress nom for Blanchett.

I sure hope there is more noms than that though!

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

What do we think are the chances that the Academy's Directors branch, smaller and more discerning usually than the DGA voters, spurn the director of Anchorman and go for Haynes instead (or Spielberg... basically anyone more reputable)?

Also, is Inarritu vaping in that picture of him and Leo?

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Evan - I still can't imagine them (a) nominating McKay or (b) leaving out Spielberg (whose only post-Private Ryan awards movie not to get a Best Director nod was War Horse). They're such a selective group; is McKay even a member?

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

The DGA doesn't even deserve to have Todd Haynes in their ranks and can go fuck themselves.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

I'm officially worried about Carol now. In my opinion the most intriguing films of the year were female-driven--Brooklyn, Carol, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Room, 45 Years--so it's a bit disheartening to see male-centric films honored instead. I'm hoping Haynes will show up on Thursday, but he's definitely on the bubble.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

boy oh boy what a disappointment... I want satisfactory news on Thursday

you know, people just don't get it or don't want to get it, it's like creationism, science denial, the Earth is Flat "theories", chemtrails...

Why nominate Todd Haynes and his lovely exoplanet (exoplanet = a planet outside our solar system) when we have Saturn in our back yard, and it looks good, and we'll just keep nominating it because fuck you extrasolar discoveries.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

OK, Nathaniel: Rank both sets of nominees according to your preference.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercash

You should want this award season to end. 2015 was horrible for movies. Which is way the precursors are so erratic.

Grateful Brie Larson becomes a Best Actress Champ (Nick Davis) on her first nomination. I remember your initial fuss over Short Term 12. Now you have no excuse to wonder when is it her turn. Now is her now. Now is the best time possible in the best category and actress of her talents deserves to be recognized in.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Bette Streep: Blanchett's nom is still secure and Mara has a small chance of holding onto supporting actress (cat fraud, but Carol clearly isn't loved enough in Hollywood to pull off the double lead thing) and it'll also get two or three tech nods. Now, as far as a cohesive diagnosis of the Lead Actress race post Globes?

1. Brie Larson, Room
2. Saorise Ronan, Brooklyn (Either Larson or Ronan could win, and I suspect Ronan could surge ahead later.)
3. Cate Blanchett, Carol (Picture heat is gone, and this won't be a win, but her Lead Actress nom will still happen.)
4. Amy Poehler, Inside Out (Landmark Wildcard. Yes, I get why some raise the view that voice only and full live are massively different disciplines that shouldn't be judged together (I don't agree, but I at least get WHY it's a viewpoint), but Pixar hasn't produced a lead turn on this level since Holly Hunter in '04 or Ellen DeGeneres in '03, this season is significantly more fractured than the seasons that produced those performances and it's kind of embarrassing at this point that voice only or mo-cap work hasn't wound up on even a single ballot 26 years after the rising tide that started with The Little Mermaid.)
5. Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years. (I had always leaned on Tomlin being the more likely "old dog" nominee. I was also, however, expecting Tomlin to win the Com/Mus Globe or, at least, lose to McCarthy or Schumer if she was to lose. Instead, she lost to JLaw. For Joy. Yeah, (in spite of Indiewire somehow thinking it could happen), that's not carrying through to Oscar and Rampling's and Poehler's odds have improved because of it.)
(Alts: Lily Tomlin, Grandma, Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Emily Blunt, Sicario.)

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

It's so infuriating that it becomes almost funny. Every year I give the awards bodies the benefit of the doubt saying, yeah, well, they didn't like the same things I did. Next year they will. But somehow they never do lol. I'm beginning to think they really have some bias against women :-)

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteradelutza

Never heard of A Wolf at the Door. Is it actually good or does it fall into the same category as something like The Big Shit OOPS I MEANT SHORT

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAR


Read this as Madame LeQueer tbh.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRahul

I'm hoping for a repeat of 2012, where the Oscars course-corrected from the Globes and DGA (who nominated Affleck, Hooper, and Tarantino between them), and nominated Haneke and Zeitlin instead. (Bigelow was an unfortunate casualty, but still an impressive field that year.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I think Oscar will swap McKay for Haynes. I can't see the directors branch embracing The Big Short more than Carol. And DGA doesn't match Oscar all that often.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

If it weren't for furiosa, this would be one heck of a sausage party. But maybe with her shaved head they thought she was a he.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

This has really been a terrible week.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEz

Ugh. Hollywood is such a macho place. See the Golden Globes.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I hope it's either Scott or Miller

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I love, love, love "Far From Heaven", one of the great films of the 2000's. Certainly it should have been have swimming in Oscar nominations. Moore deserved to win both Actress and Supporting Actress (for "The Hours") that year. And Dennis Quaid's absence from the list of 2002 nominees still rankles. Yet, I've got to say "Carol" left me cold. For all its immaculate period recreation, I felt thoroughly unengaged. Blanchett's a great technician who's sometimes transcendent. But,for me, that didn't happen this time. Rooney Mara (who blew me away with that brief but sensational appearance of hers in "The Social Network") was highly competent. But that's about all the enthusiasm I can muster. Still, that's just me. I realize the film resonated deeply for many, many others. Wish I could have shared the feeling.
Were I to choose this year's directorial nominees, Miller and Innaritu would be locks. I'd add Sean Baker ("Tangerine") and Sebastian Schipper ("Victoria"). For fifth spot, probably Danny Boyle("Steve Jobs"), though "Brooklyn" 's an undeniable charmer. Still surprised that Fassbender's New Zealand-lensed "Slow West" got so little attention. I loved it, but, for some reason, it's not even on the Academy's eligiblity list.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKen

Its depressing but this line-up is kinda expected from DGA. Haynes is def on the bubble rite now, so he still get a good chance o replacing one of the above five (I hope its McKay) come Thu.

On a bright note, the 1st time feature film director is a great welcome and a pretty good list. Am glad tt Alex Garland shortlisted for Ex-Machina

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Hey, where'd my Oscar predictions go?

I said: Haynes, Iñárritu, Miller, Scott, Spielberg (with McCarthy possibly replacing any one of these except Iñárritu).

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

You know, while I get everyone's point that these are men, I really hate how that conversation makes people lose sight of the talented people who are actually nominated. It really bothered me last year when Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater, two of my favorite directors working in American cinema, were getting their first nominations for Best Director, but that's not a conversation that could be had because they're both white men.

This year I'm excited for Thomas McCarthy getting his first Best Director nomination (The Station Agent is a film I adore, so are Win Win and The Visitor, and of course Spotlight), Ridley Scott is the guy who gave us Blade Runner, the first Alien and Thelma & Louise (I even think The Martian is good) and no matter what everyone says around here, being Mexican myself and a fan of Birdman, I will always root for Alejandro González Iñárritu (even if I don't want him to win this year).

I get that people want more diversity in their lineups and I'm all for that, but not at the expense of singing the praises for some truly talented people.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Can we talk about how the 'First time directors' list is infinitely better than the actual Best Director nominees and would make much better choices on Thursday?

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLucky

I don't totally understand how if a movie or artist one admires doesn't get any nominations or awards, that is somehow a reason to become frustrated. Does it make you seem you are wrong for liking something if it is not recognized or if these "awards people" have different opinions about what is good, does that make one feel marginalized or mistaken? I understand this website is highly focused on awards, but the overreaction seems a little disproportional at times. Wouldn't it be more fulfilling to know that you made a connection with a piece of art and most of the world didn't because you are different from most of the world? I understand why my favorite director, Bergman, is not embraced in the mainstream and regardless of any awards he has or has not received in his lifetime, my relationship with his art remains intact and intimate. So, just enjoy your love affair with Carol and or give up on the idea that everyone should embrace it because you want to be right that the movie is a masterpiece.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Goodbar

Lucky: Pushing my hopes down to something half-way plausible, I'd certainly prefer Alex Garland over Adam McKay.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

This was the worst awards season announcement. I was stunned.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Carol can still make it. Remember BAFTA went nuts for it and again- the directors branch for the academy is much more kind to intimate directors (Bennet Miller last year) that focus on actors. So there's still a chance Haynes will make it, most likely replacing Miller. But it could also be Far from Heaven (2002) all over again.

I think it still manages

Adapted Screenplay
Supporting Actress

It's a wild year though.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJasonMovieGuy

Mr Goodbar -- i have absolutely no doubts that CAROL is a masterpiece and the Academy embrace or shunning will not change that. I've never needed other peoples approval to name my favorites (Hello Marie Antoinette which people just hated as my Best Picture of 2006).

so i think you're projecting issues onto me that i don't have. The thing is I just like it when Oscar recognizes the greatest film artists is all. I love the Oscars so it's more fun when they notice the greats because it's more fun to talk about great films than mediocre ones. Plus when an artist has proven himself over and over again it's wonderful when they get a little embrace back from the medium they've enriched.

Claran -- i loved Garland's work on ex machine -- as you can see from my own director nominations. so i was thrilled too.

peggy sue -- do you think it's because making movies is actually pretty girlie? they are just hanging around playing pretend and wearing costumes and makeup all day. etcetera. stuntmen do all the dangerous manly stuff ;)

January 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm pleased Miller got in as I was worried post BAFTA, but I'm disappointed about Haynes. Scott is the one I wouldn't mind dropping from this list but it won't happen. (Hey I love Bladerunner too, I just don't like career achievement nominations!).

January 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermsd

Fair enough. I get it. You have a connection with the Oscars and it's more fun when it aligns with your personal taste. I guess you're right about my being the one with the issue here. Maybe I'm too empirical and to me there is no evidence that the Academy recognizes great films or great artists. It all comes down to taste, really and if I look at the last 50 movies nominated I would only consider 8 of those to be great, meaning I would expect them to choose, according to my own taste, mediocre or just ok movies as "the best" of the year.

January 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Goodbar

The reason why CAROL (or ROOM or BROOKLYN or... or... or...) not getting nominated for Oscars or DGA or SAG or whatever is that without those nominations they're less likely to make bank, which means we're less likely to see films like them in the future. Nobody - absolutely nobody - is saying somebody can't or shouldn't like THE REVENANT or THE BIG SHORT or any other moviee, but when we complain about these movies by/about woman and/or minorities not being honoured it's because everyone seems to agree these movies are great and yet once again these other movies have come and, naturally, their male-oriented views and casts just makes it all very tiring.

Of course, I'm actually not at all surprised by Adam McKay's nomination. I have no doubt that the ranks of the DGA are full of directors who wish the could follow his career path. How many of the are out there making nonsense but wishing they were making an Oscar-bound movie like THE BIG SHORT? A lot.

January 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I'm sorry, Nathaniel. I really am. I know you're definitely on the Hayes/Carol love wagon. But as this forum is for opining, I can't help but express that I am glad to see that Haynes was not on the list and that Carol's PGA nod was absent. I sound as if I dislike the film or Haynes. This is not the case. I admire them both. Yet, as much as I liked Carol, I feel there are serious flaws in it that bar from loving and after multiple viewings, I really have to feel that this is due to Haynes' direction.

My opinion is that this film calls for a really juicy and intimate closeness that is provided beautifully by Rooney and Cate. The screenplay is well-done and not overdone. There is a minimalistic approach to this film, which I do not object to as minimalism has a personal fanbase with me. But I feel that Haynes' extensive attention to recreating the period and setting a (nice, dream-like mood) ultimately interfere with where the heart of the story wants to go. I'm gonna be blunt, I feel there's a painful pretentiousness to how icy and distant he keeps the characters and story. I feel he's working against the film. To put it in a more concrete way, I feel as though the film is a little glass animal kept on the highest tier behind glass and we're not to touch it because it's so beautiful. While there's essentially nothing wrong with that approach, I feel a huge portion of the restraint Haynes shows with the narrative and story is buoyed by the way he has framed the film. I argue that the constant use of photographing the characters through windows calls attention to itself in a rather smug way.I don't feel it adds to the film or makes it more artistic or serene. It makes it even more distant and overprotected.

I had a similar complaint with Far from Heaven and I'm Not There. I did enjoy Far from Heaven, maybe more than Carol, but something about Haynes' aesthetics really bothers me and while these aforesaid reasons may not play into Oscar or guild voters at large, I feel a strong sense of personal vindication with his exclusion from the Director race thus far (sans Globes, where strangely Carol lost everything!) I feel there are worthier choices that deserve that slot.

Lastly, I liked Carol... it may not sound like it, but I find it a beautifully flawed film with much to take from it. I give it a solid B+ despite its moments that irritate me. The magic was in the casting and writing. And while Haynes' craftsmanship is undoubtedly solid, I wish he would rein it in a little more and let the the story and characters breathe more and crack open the window of the glass he insists on putting us behind. #my2cents.

January 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLito Briano

Lito - I agree that the beauty of "Carol" kept me at a distance, but it doesn't feel any more or less unmotivated than, say, the rapid montages in "The Big Short". Both are directorial flourishes that I can't quite link to a function.

I've been struggling with "Carol", and while I'm certainly not actively rooting against it I think the aesthetic is what I can't come to terms with. Haynes' past films have had clear purpose or thematic connection in their aesthetics - we are meant to feel the artificiality of "Far From Heaven". But I have yet to determine what the design intention may be for "Carol" beyond looking very pretty. And I do think there is a disconnect between this and the material. Why depict repression as such an elegant thing? Why make a film partly about frustrated, gay longing where everyone is perfectly composed at all times? Maybe I haven't cracked the code yet, maybe I'm expecting too much, or maybe I just relate to the material differently - in any case I'm looking forward to a revisit.

January 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

im SHOCKED nathaniel isn't predicting Todd. Seems like just the kind of 5th slot auteur to get in while McKay (ugh!) feels more like a Lasse Hallstrom, Marc Forester or even Clint Eastwood last year.

January 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdamien

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