Feature: Oscar eyes on DGA Awards

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter  |  Feb. 28, 2003 at 4:22 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The Directors Guild of America presents its 55th annual DGA Awards on Saturday, probably providing a strong clue as to who will win the Oscar for Best Director.

The nominees are: Steven Daldry ("The Hours"), Peter Jackson ("The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"), Rob Marshall ("Chicago"), Roman Polanski ("The Pianist") and Martin Scorsese ("Gangs of New York"). The winner will be a strong favorite to win the Best Director Oscar at the 75th Academy Awards on March 23.

Since the DGA started handing out prizes for top feature film directors in 1948, the winner has gone on to take Oscar every year but five. Two of the exceptions occurred relatively recently.

In 2000, the DGA honored Ang Lee for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," but Steven Soderbergh won the Oscar for "Traffic." In 1995, Ron Howard won the DGA Award for "Apollo 13," but was not even nominated for the Oscar. Mel Gibson won for "Braveheart," which also won the Best Picture Oscar that year.

All five of this year's DGA nominees turned in impressive performances, but Marshall, Polanski and Scorsese seem to have the best chance of walking away with the trophy Saturday.

Marshall -- in his big screen directorial debut -- has captured Hollywood's attention with his imaginative take on the Bob Fosse musical.

"The Pianist" won for both best film and best director last weekend at the BAFTA Awards in London and the Cesar Awards in Paris, burnishing Polanski's credentials for both the DGA and the Academy Awards.

This is Polanski's third DGA nomination. He was previously nominated for "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) and "Chinatown" (1974). He won the Golden Globe and was nominated for the Oscar for "Chinatown." He was also nominated for the Oscar for "Tess" (1980).

Scorsese -- who won the Golden Globe Award for "Gangs of New York" -- has been nominated five times for the DGA Award, but has never won. His previous nominations came for "Taxi Driver" (1976), "Raging Bull" (198), "GoodFellas" (1990) and "The Age of Innocence" (1993).

He has been nominated for the Academy Award for "Gangs of New York," "GoodFellas," "Raging Bull" and "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988), but has never won the Oscar. He has been the beneficiary during this awards season of an energetic campaign on his behalf, spearheaded by DGA- and Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg and Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein.

Regardless of the outcome for the DGA feature film directing award, Scorsese is assured of taking home a trophy Saturday. The DGA will present him with its highest honor -- a lifetime achievement award.

Scorsese will join a list of past winners that includes Hollywood legends Woody Allen, Frank Capra, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Billy Wilder. The most recent DGA lifetime achievement award went to Spielberg in 2000.

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