Cuarón, Greengrass, McQueen, Russell, and Scorsese Are Contenders for Directorial Honors

Five directors have been nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2013 — including veteran DGA nominee Martin Scorsese, whose DGA Award nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street is his 11th. He has won only once before, for The Departed, though he has now racked up 11 DGA Award nominations, starting with Taxi Driver in 1976.

The other directors in the running are Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity, Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips, Steve McQueen [pictured, top, in front of DP Sean Bobbitt] for 12 Years a Slave, and David O. Russell for American Hustle. Russell has been nominated for the DGA Award once before, for The Fighter, while the other three directors are making their first appearances on the shortlist.

It's hard to guess how the "best director" race will turn out, either at the DGA Awards or at the Oscars, though a strong argument could be made that Steve McQueen is the frontrunner. 12 Years a Slave has been acclaimed on pretty much all fronts (well, except for that one critic in New York) and McQueen has been gaining recognition and respect with a three-film run that also included Hunger and Shame, and 12 Years a Slave is his commercial breakthrough. Then again, if you're talking commercial breakthroughs, Alfonso Cuarón wrangled a lot of cutting-edge technique into a very popular thriller this year. And Paul Greengrass and David O. Russell both have strong supporters this year, citing, especially, the caliber of the performances they directed.

Of course you can never count Scorsese out for anything — unless the very R-rated Wolf of Wall Street turns out to be too extreme for voters to fully endorse, or enough of them agree with the argument being made in some corners that the film glorifies bad behavior. (Please note: Scorsese didn't win the Oscar or the DGA Award for Goodfellas, the closest of his films in tone and temperament to Wolf.)

Were there snubs? The Coen Brothers are the obvious one for Inside Llewyn Davis, a film that just can't seem to work up a real head of steam with award voters despite a strong campaign hinging on the film's carefully produced soundtrack. And a case could be made for Woody Allen, given the extravagant praise for Cate Blanchett's star turn in his San Francisco-set Blue Jasmine. Either of those directors could swoop in and take a spot on the Oscars shortlist, which will be announced next Thursday, January 16. Otherwise, it seems likely that  the Oscar nominees will match the DGA's list exactly.

The DGA Award winners will be announced on Saturday, January 25, in a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hosted by Jane Lynch.