Barry Levinson, director of the hit autism drama “Rain Man,” was named Saturday as best director of a feature film for 1988 by the Directors Guild of America, which honored its own at banquets in Beverly Hills and New York.
Other nominees for the guild’s achievement award for film direction were Alan Parker of the controversial civil rights film “Mississippi Burning,” Robert Zemeckis, who engineered the animated-live action blockbuster “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” Charles Chrichton, director of the crime-caper comedy “A Fish Called Wanda,” and Mike Nichols, who brought the corporate Cinderella saga “Working Girl” to the screen.
The winner of the prestigious guild trophy, as selected by the guild’s 9,000 members, almost always repeats as best director at the Academy Awards. And because the academy’s best-directed film usually receives the best picture Oscar, the guild awards hold a special significance for the film community.
4 Up for Oscars
All but one of the guild nominees--Zemeckis--was also nominated for best director by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In Zemeckis’ place, the academy nominated Martin Scorsese, director of the much-debated “The Last Temptation of Christ.”
In the guild television directing competition, Steve Miner of ABC was voted best director of a comedy series for the pilot episode of “The Wonder Years.”
In other television awards, Marshall Herskovitz was voted best director of a nighttime dramatic series for the “Therapy” episode of the ABC series “thirtysomething,” Lamont Johnson was voted best director of a dramatic special for his program “Lincoln” on NBC, Jesus Salvador Trevino was voted best director of a dramatic daytime show for the CBS schoolbreak special “Gangs,” and Walter C. Miller won for best director of a musical or variety program for CBS’ “100th Birthday Celebration (Irving Berlin).”
Other television awards went to Harry Coyle in sports for directing NBC’s presentation of the 1988 World Series, James Gartner in commercials for a series of ads, including one for major league baseball, and Merrill Brockway in documentaries for the PBS Great Performances program “On the Move.”
ABC, CBS Lead Pack
ABC and CBS had each entered the evening with six nominations apiece, with ABC’s “thirtysomething” holding two nominations. NBC trailed with three nominations in the five television directing categories.
The awards were announced Saturday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel and New York’s Plaza Hotel.
With only three exceptions, the guild award winner has repeated as the Academy Award winner.
Steven Spielberg won the 1986 guild award for “The Color Purple” while Sydney Pollack took the best director Oscar for “Out of Africa.” The guild’s 1973 trophy was given to Francis Ford Coppola for “The Godfather,” but Bob Fosse was awarded the Academy Award for “Cabaret.” And in 1969, the guild selected Anthony Harvey for “The Lion in Winter” while the academy chose Sir Carol Reed for “Oliver!”
Bernardo Bertolucci won both the guild award and the Oscar in 1988 for “The Last Emperor” and Oliver Stone doubled in 1987 for “Platoon.” Both those films also won the best picture Oscar.
Earlier this year, Clint Eastwood captured the Golden Globe best director trophy for “Bird,” but he was not among the guild or academy nominees.
In other awards competitions this season, the Los Angeles Film Critics named David Cronenberg best director for “Dead Ringers,” the New York Film Critics selected Chris Menges for “A World Apart” and the National Society of Film Critics picked Philip Kaufman for “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”
As previously announced, Sidney Lumet, director of such films as “Serpico” and “Running on Empty,” was named an honorary life member in the directors guild.