With DGA Win, ‘Birdman’ Soars to Top of Oscars Heap

Michael Keaton and "Birdman" director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu are Oscar favorites. (Photo: Atsushi Nishijima, AP)
Michael Keaton and “Birdman” director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu are Oscar favorites.
(Photo: Atsushi Nishijima, AP)

The Oscar race just got a little more decisive.

The top contenders are still Birdman and Boyhood, but Birdman appears to be flying higher than the rest of the flock, following Saturday’s 67th annual Directors Guild of America awards.

With Alejandro González Iñárritu’s win for best director, Birdman just soared a little closer to the light of Oscar gold.

Birdman is now the clear Oscar favorite, having swept the trifecta of awards bestowed by the directors’, producers’ and actors’ guilds,” said Tom O’Neil, editor of awards site GoldDerby.com.

The three groups share voters with the Academy and the DGA’s choice is usually a reliable barometer of a similar Oscar win.

In the 66 years it has given out awards, the DGA has deviated from the Motion Picture Academy’s directorial award only seven times. Last year, Alfonso Cuaron won the DGA award for Gravity, as well as the best-director Oscar.

It could still be a duel, with a split decision on Oscar night Feb. 22 in which Birdman and Boyhood could divide up best-picture and best-director awards.

But many Oscarologists are betting all their birdfeed on the story of a has-been actor who tries to stage a comeback. That’s especially the case since Birdman picked up the Producers’ Guild best-picture prize and the equivalent prize from the Screen Actors Guild last month.

“The Boyhood bandwagon just came to a crashing halt after it raced through the early awards bestowed by film critics and the Golden Globes,” said O’Neil.

Boyhood had won a Golden Globe and a slew of awards from critics’ groups. However, neither critics, nor the body that gives out the Globes — the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — overlap with Academy members.

Academy voters have a weakness for movies about the entertainment industry, which Birdman satirizes. And who can resist a comeback kid, as played by Michael Keaton, an actor making a major comeback himself.

Iñárritu beat out stiff competition. Besides Linklater and Boyhood, he bested Clint Eastwood for American Sniper, Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel and Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game.

Reflecting the tastes of a total of nearly 16,000 members, including TV and commercial directors, DGA nominees often have a broader, more populist orientation than the choices of the 400 directors in the motion picture academy, which selected the five Oscar nominees. (Most Oscar categories are nominated by the members of the corresponding branch — actors nominate actors, cinematographers nominate cinematographers, and so on. A couple of categories, such as foreign language and animated films, have special voting rules.)

During this period of final voting, all 6,000 members of the Academy vote for winners in all categories.

Here’s a look at how the other major races are shaping up:

Click here to continue reading.

SOURCE: USA Today – Claudia Puig

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