DGA nominations: These voters did see ‘Les Miz,’ right?

"Les Miserables" director Tom Hooper was, arguably, the most divisive choice among the DGA nominees.
(Kirk McKoy)

With the Directors Guild handing a nomination to Tom Hooper for his work on “Les Miserables,” a movie many have cited for its ... well ... let’s be charitable (for the moment) and use the word “odd” with regard to its craftsmanship, we can now be certain of one thing. Support for the overwrought musical that everyone loves to sing-along to is strong. Strong enough, certainly, for that expected best picture Oscar nomination on Thursday and probably solid enough to put Hooper among the five Oscar nominees for director.

The other DGA-nominated directors -- Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”), Ben Affleck (“Argo”), Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty) and Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”) -- were expected to show up on the list and should be on the academy’s as well. It’s that fifth slot that has been open to conjecture. Hooper’s snagging it Tuesday morning doesn’t mean that Oscar voters won’t cast their lot with someone else, say, David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained”) or even Michael Haneke (“Amour”).


The DGA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ nominee slates have matched just once in the last five years, with the other four years producing a four-out-of-five scenario. The one wrinkle this year: With the early deadline, Oscar nominations ballots were turned in before the DGA announced. That eliminates any influence today’s nominations might have had over academy voters.

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And still ... we’re leaning toward Hooper winning an Oscar nomination. “Les Miz” apologists -- and there are many (you will know them by their handkerchiefs!) -- will argue that Hooper’s direction (the oppressive close-ups, the bizarre, canted camera angles, the compositional shifts in scale and his all-consuming affinity for asymmetry) suited and enhanced the outsized emotions of the material. And, as Hooper will be the first to tell you, audiences have been “devastated” by his choices. They are weeping in their seats and then lining up to open the floodgates all over again. Certainly, enough DGA members were left weak in the knees, not to mention their heads. “Les Miz” seems to have that effect on people. We’ll know Thursday if academy members have joined the cause as well.


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