Oscar Frontrunners Keep Lead with DGA Doc Nominees

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

By Pat Mullen

The four top competitors for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar widened their leads today with the announcement of the Directors Guild of America Award nominations. Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbour?, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s Free Solo, Tim Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers, and Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s RBG all received nominations from the DGA, which can often overlook popular documentaries. (This is Neville’s first nomination, despite winning the Academy Award for 20 Feet from Stardom.) The four docs are box office success stories for non-fiction film and collectively boosted the profile for the art form by drawing crowds in record numbers. The quartet were also the four films to score nominations for Best Edited Documentary (Feature) today from the Editors Guild of America. Both guilds are major industry citations on the road to Oscar.

Rounding out the DGA’s list was RaMell Ross’s acclaimed festival hit Hale County This Morning This Evening. (The editors only nominated four films.) Hale County, like the other four DGA contenders, was included among the 15 features shortlisted for the Oscar. The film has its Toronto premiere this week at the Royal Cinema.

None of the frontrunners appeared one of today’s other big guild announcements, as the Writers Guild of America tapped four films that didn’t make the Oscar shortlist. The four docs nominated for best screenplay from the WGA are Bathtubs Over Broadway (written by Ozzy Inguanzo & Dava Whisenant), _Fahrenheit 11/9 _ (written by Michael Moore), Generation Wealth (written by Lauren Greenfield); and In Search of Greatness (written by Gabe Polsky). The busy day for nominations comes as voting for the Oscars officially opens.