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Directors' snub dims 'Sunshine's' hope for best-pic upset

January 23, 2007 |  5:43 am


Even though the odds of "Little Miss Sunshine" winning the Oscar for best picture just jumped thanks to its big win at the Producers Guild of America Sunday night, you might want to resist that urge to go dashing madly across Oscarland boldly predicting that "Little Miss Sunshine" will win the top Oscar next. Only one movie in modern Oscar times has won best picture without having a corresponding nomination for best director — "Driving Miss Daisy." Most Oscar experts predicted that "Apollo 13" could win without Ron Howard being nominated, but, alas, "Braveheart" pulled off an upset and Mel Gibson claimed the directors' gold.

"Sunshine" was probably snubbed by the directors' branch because it has two helmers instead of one: hubby and wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

Duo directing bids are rare at the Oscars — like Warren Beatty and Buck Henry being nommed together for "Heaven Can Wait" (1978). That duo actually shared directing duties during filming, each one taking over behind the camera whenever the other one appeared in front (Buck Henry starred as a fellow angel). They lost the Oscar to Michael Cimino ("The Deer Hunter").

Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise jointly won the Oscar of 1961 for helming "West Side Story," but then didn't shoot the pic as a team. Originally, Wise was just the producer, who hired its Broadway director and choreographer (Robbins) to helm the screen adaptation, but fired him mid-way through production and took over. Wise was fully qualified to assume control. He had earned Oscar noms as film editor of "Citizen Kane" and director of "I Want to Live." Following up on his dual wins for "West Side Story" as director and producer, he'd win more Oscars in 1965 as helmer and producer of best-pic champ "The Sound of Music."

Above photos: "Little Miss Sunshine" directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris failed to shine in Oscar's directing race, which could hurt their film's chances in the best-pic race. However, "Driving Miss Daisy" prevailed despite its helmer being snubbed.

(Fox Searchlight/ Warner Bros.)