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Not all pundits predict 'Slumdog Millionaire' helmer Danny Boyle will win the Directors Guild of America Award

January 30, 2009 | 10:07 am

Over the last 50 years, the Oscars' best-picture winner also bagged the top prize from the Directors Guild of America 40 times. What will claim the DGA trophy when it's bestowed on Saturday night?

Directors_guild_of_america_3

The five films nominated: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (David Fincher), "The Dark Knight" (Christopher Nolan), "Frost/Nixon" (Ron Howard), "Milk" (Gus Van Sant) and "Slumdog Millionaire" (Danny Boyle).

Over at AwardsDaily.com, Sasha Stone sighs, "There probably isn’t much to write about here as Boyle has this one in the bag. He has it so much in the bag, in fact, that I don’t even think I’ll run predictions because what would be the point?"

Well, Gold Derby decided to pursue the point anyway and pooled predix from lots of pundits, who back Boyle by a landslide, that's true. But I found a few brave (crazy?) souls who dare to stray. They include Bob Tourtellotte (Reuters), Kevin Lewin (World Entertainment News Network) and, well, me. All of us believe Fincher will take this. I even think Christopher Nolan (who's not nominated at the Oscars) has a shot. After all, there were a few notable cases of previous Oscar snubees actually claiming the DGA trophy: Ron Howard ("Apollo 13") and Steven Spielberg ("The Color Purple").

There are only 374 members of the directors' branch of the academy, but there are 13,000 members of the DGA and the vast majority do not make their living helming feature films. They do TV shows, commercials and music videos. They're younger and hipper than the academy gang. And here's another key consideration: They are not permitted, according to guild rules, to receive DVD screeners. I think it's safe to say that quite a lot of the DGA members haven't seen "Slumdog Millioniare." Maybe many haven't seen "Benjamin Button" too, but they've probably seen "The Dark Knight" and aren't so quick to shrug it off as a mere popcorn pic.

All three leading nominees have esteemed reputations as directors of art-house fare: Fincher ("Zodiac"), Boyle ("Trainspotting") and Nolan ("Memento"). That's important. Boyle and Nolan are British. Fincher's a Yankee. Is that important? This award is bestowed by the Directors Guild of America, let's recall.

I've decided to jump off a cliff for Fincher because I think the guild members -- even if they haven't seen "Benjamin Button" -- can tell from the trailers and TV commercials that it's an epic work full of impressive visual effects, spellbinding cinematography, sumptuous music and intense performances by A-list stars. The fact that it's based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story gives it literary cred. Furthermore, Fincher has an immensely high Cool Factor within directors' ranks.

However, here are the pundits pooled by Gold Derby who are backing Boyle: Brad Brevet (RopeOfSilicon.com), Edward Douglas (Comingsoon.net), Greg Ellwood (HitFix.com), Scott Feinberg (Feinberg Files, The Envelope), Marshall Fine (Star magazine, HollywoodAndFine.com), Pete Hammond (Notes on a Season, The Envelope), Elena Howe (The Envelope), Peter Howell (Toronto Star), Dave Karger (Entertainment Weekly), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Mark Olsen (The Envelope), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), T.L. Stanley (Gold Rush, Hollywood Reporter), Chuck Walton (Fandango.com), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere.com), Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today).

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Here's how our experts scored in predicting the SAG Awards

Here are the films our experts predict will win best picture from the Producers Guild of America

Photos credits: Paramount, Fox Searchlight, Warner Bros.

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Comments

Danny Boyle's direction was brilliant and deserves the win. Nolan might win since he was screwed out of an Oscar nod, and I won't complain as he has brought such prestige to a 'comic book' film. All 5, however, are quite deserving. It was a great year for film.

Danny is defusing the controversy of the children in the film, by -- guess what? -- offering to solve the Mumbai poverty crisis problem with a special fund set up to help. Won't work. It never does. If it could work, the Indian Govt would have found a way to do it.
Danny will find himself knee deep in resentment by the Indian govt, by the people (mainly the rich Indians), and possibly by the Mumbai slum people.

Danny, just take the profits and the money and invest it in another good movie.

It is ridiculously unfair for guild members to cast their votes for films they have not seen. I realize people don't have time for 50 odd films when you are juggling family and work, but still, they should have already seen the major contenders. This is their job, and it is a privilege. If members cannot make the time, they should abstain from voting to avoid making ignorant choices. Or perhaps, their votes should be discounted, should count less or something. From the commercials, Benjamin Button Looks really great, but you will only realize what a disappointing film is it once you watch the whole film. If the guild members pick Fincher, this would be travesty. simply because Slumdog is the superior film. In my opinion. And just because the effects in Button are great, doesn't mean or shouldn't mean anything. Effects are supposed to serve a film. The film, the story is the most important thing.


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