The DGA focused on three relatively new easy riders and two veteran raging bulls in choosing its nominees for the 55th annual DGA Awards for outstanding directorial achievement. In what is shaping up as a suspense-filled awards season, innovative newcomers Stephen Daldry, Rob Marshall and Peter Jackson will face off against proven masters Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese.
Daldry, who directed "The Hours," an adaptation of Michael Cunningham's very literary novel, for Paramount Pictures/Miramax Films, and Marshall, who helmed the flashy Miramax musical "Chicago," received their first DGA nominations.
"I want to thank the members of the directors guild for this great honor," said Daldry, whose film won the Golden Globe as the year's best drama. "Working with the three greatest actresses of our time as well as the tremendous supporting cast made my work so much easier and more pleasurable that I feel I must share this great honor with all of them."
Jackson, who was nominated for the first time last year for New Line's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," was honored with a second nom for its sequel, "The Two Towers."
Speaking by phone from New Zealand, where he is just eight days into editing the final film in the trilogy, "The Return of the King," Jackson said he was pleased to be nominated the second time around. "It's fantastic," he said. "We had a real tough year of postproduction (on 'Two Towers'). It was harder to put together because there were more effects, and we had to keep propelling three different story lines forward. So I'm really delighted that audiences are enjoying it as much as they are and it is being recognized as a different challenge (than the first film) and not just more of the same."
To round out its quintet, the DGA turned to two established directors whose work helps define the fresh approach to moviemaking that characterized the '70s.
Polanski earned his third nomination for Focus Features' "The Pianist," his portrait of a Holocaust survivor. Polanski was nominated in 1968 for "Rosemary's Baby" and in 1974 for "Chinatown."
"Nothing can be more gratifying than recognition by one's peers," Polanski said in a statement. "My nomination by the DGA for 'The Pianist' gives me the greatest pleasure. However, it would not have been possible without the collaboration of my magnificent crew. I am grateful to them and to the DGA."
Scorsese, nominated for Miramax's "Gangs of New York," his epic look at the immigrant forces that forged America, is the most familiar face on this year's roster. "Gangs" marks Scorsese's fifth nomination, following noms for "Taxi Driver" (1976), "Raging Bull" (1980), "GoodFellas" (1990) and "The Age of Innocence" (1993).
Scorsese, who was named best director of the year by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., also will be presented with the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award -- the guild's most prestigious honor, which only 29 other directors have earned during the guild's history -- at the awards dinner, which will take place March 1 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City.
The DGA Award is one of the most closely watched prizes on Hollywood's crowded awards calendar because in its 49-year history, the DGA winner has gone on to take the Oscar for best director on all but five occasions. The last time the DGA Award and the best directing Oscar diverged was in 2000, when the DGA honored Ang Lee for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," while the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opted for Steven Soderbergh for "Traffic."
"We all want to win an Oscar," said DGA president Martha Coolidge, who announced the nominations Tuesday morning at DGA headquarters in Los Angeles. "But this award is the nearest and dearest to a director's heart."
This year's nominees also are an international group, with Britain's Daldry, New Zealand's Jackson, and Polanski, who was born in Poland and resides in Paris, joining Americans Marshall and Scorsese.
The DGA Award recognizes the directorial team behind each director nominated.
The complete list of nominees follows:
Stephen Daldry, director; Jo Burn, Michael Dreyer, unit production managers; James Bigwood, unit production manager (U.S. unit); Nick Heckstall-Smith, Martin Harrison, first assistant directors; Stephen Lee Davis, first assistant director (U.S. unit); George Walker, second assistant director; Jennifer Truelove, Kellie Jo Tackett, second assistant directors (U.S. unit); Peggy Jean Robinson, second second assistant director (U.S. unit)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Peter Jackson, director; Nikolas Korda, Zane Weiner, unit production managers; Carolynne Cunningham, first assistant director; Guy Campbell, key second assistant director; Marc Ashton, second assistant director
Rob Marshall, director; Joyce Kozy King, production manager; Myron Hoffert, first assistant director; Grant Lucibello, second assistant director
Roman Polanski, director; Ralph Remstedt, first assistant director
Gangs of New York
Martin Scorsese, director; Michael Hausman, unit production manager; Joseph Reidy, first assistant director; Chris Surgent, second assistant director; Douglas Plasse, additional second assistant director