I'm surprised that the vast majority of pundits we polled (20 out of 29) predict Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") will win the Directors Guild of America award over her ex-hubby James Cameron ("Avatar") on Saturday night. I don't think Team Bigelow is taking into account some crucial details about this guild that strongly suggest Team Cameron will prevail.
"The Hurt Locker" juggernaut sweeping the Hollywood film industry and America's movie critics right now may be largely isolated to those groups. DGA is comprised of more than 13,000 members who are scattered across the U.S. and don't necessarily work in the feature film biz. Most, in fact, work in television, direct commercials, music videos, etc. We must assume that many members probably didn't see "The Hurt Locker" at movie theaters, where it reaped only $12 million. Summit set up lots of industry screenings, yes, but if members missed those, they may have missed the boat entirely. According to guild rules, studios aren't permitted to send DVD screeners to DGA members.
Lots of DGA members who work on music videos and other commercial fare have a strong appreciation for the special-effects wizardry in "Avatar." Another key point: The fanatic national buzz over "Avatar" peaked two weeks ago just as DGA members received their final ballots — right about the time "Avatar" won the Golden Globe for best drama picture, which gave it a hefty awards bump. By the time "The Hurt Locker" pulled off its shockeroo victory at the Producers Guild of America, most DGA ballots were probably already filled out and mailed in.
Photo: 20th Century Fox