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Martin Scorsese sure is covering all his bases with the Directors' Guild of America. One year after winning his first television trophy from the Guild (for the pilot of "Boardwalk Empire"), he racked up his eight nomination in the feature film category for "Hugo" on Monday. Not content with that, meanwhile, he has just received his first ever DGA mention in the documentary department, as his mammoth "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" was among the five non-fiction naminees tapped by the Guild this morning. They like him, they really like him.
I don't think the Harrison film quite masures up to "No Direction Home" or "The Last Waltz" in Scorsese's rock-doc portfolio, but it's nice to see this sub-heading in his oeuvre getting some official recognition; for my money, it's the more successful of his two 2011 titles.
Scorsese is the highest-profile nominee in a pretty formidable slate. I'm particularly pleased to see that, on the heels of its triumph at last night's Cinema Eye Honors, "The Interrupters" scored a nomination here for director Steve James -- that's another sharp slap on the wrist to the Academy for leaving the film off their Best Documentary longlist. (It's not the first time the DGA has come to James's defense in this manner: the infamously Oscar-snubbed "Hoop Dreams" won their top prize in 1994.)
The list is rounded out by three films that are in the running for the Oscar: prohibitive frontrunner James Marsh for "Project Nim," Richard Press for "Bill Cunningham New York" and Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sninofsky for "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory."
Take that only as a guardedly good omen for their Oscar chances: the last two DGA documentary winners, Louis Psihoyos and Charles Ferguson, may have gone on to triumph with the Academy, but that came after 18 consecutive years of the DGA Award and the Oscar going to different films. The overlap isn't nearly as extensive as it is the feature film category, and hurrah for that -- the DGA should be an award in its own right, not a mere placeholder.
To recap, the DGA nominees in the documentary category are:
Richard Press, "Bill Cunningham New York"
Martin Scorsese, "George Harrison: Living in the Material World"
Steve James, "The Interrupters"
Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sninofsky, "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory"
James Marsh, "Project Nim"
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