'Boyhood,' 'Birdman' battle for best director at DGA awards
LOS ANGELES (AP) "Birdman" is looking to drop another trophy into its nest ahead of the Academy Awards.
After taking top honors from the acting and producing guilds, the film about a washed-up Hollywood actor played by Michael Keaton faces its final fight at the Directors Guild Awards.
"Birdman" writer-director Alejandro Inarritu and "Boyhood" filmmaker Richard Linklater are considered front-runners for the feature film director prize at Saturday's 67th annual ceremony in Los Angeles, and a win could give either movie the edge at the Oscars on Feb. 22.
Prior to the awards, Inarritu on the red carpet discussed the vast challenges, both technical and emotional, of making his formally ambitious film.
"The scene of (Keaton) walking in Times Square was challenging, logistically, to nail it right. And many, many long takes that were involving so many departments," said Inarritu.
The guild dispenses awards to directors in TV and movie categories in what's customarily a final calling for the film that goes on to win the best director trophy and possibly best picture at the Academy Awards.
Linklater, who spent 12 years creating the coming-of-age tale "Boyhood," has the best odds of winning the DGA honor going into Saturday's untelevised ceremony.
"The last moment in the film was particularly intense after 12 years, for it to end. It was just a wonderful little succession of moments," said Linklater on the red carpet.
He previously won the best director trophy at last month's Golden Globes. However, that ceremony's winners are selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, whose members don't overlap with most Oscar voters.
Inarritu and Linklater are facing off against Wes Anderson ("The Grand Budapest Hotel"), Morten Tyldum ("The Imitation Game") and Clint Eastwood ("American Sniper"), who was not nominated in the directing category at the Oscars. (Eastwood previously won the DGA prize for "Million Dollar Baby" in 2004 and "Unforgiven" in 1992.) Instead, "Foxcatcher" filmmaker Bennett Miller is up with the other guild-nominated directors for that honor at the Academy Awards.
Other than Inarritu and Eastwood, each director is a first-time DGA nominee.
For Tyldum, it was a choice between attending the DGAs and the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) which take place on Sunday.
"I'm all alone here," said Tyldum. "There are (three) directors here who were also nominated for a BAFTA. We all decided to go here. This is our guild. This means everything to us."
With nearly 16,000 members, including TV and commercial directors, the DGA nominees often reflect a more populist lineup when compared with picks from the nearly 400 members of the directors' branch of the motion picture academy.
However, when it comes to the best director accolade, the ceremony is usually an accurate predictor. In the 66-year history of the awards, the winner has failed to also take home the best director Oscar just seven times. Most recently, Ben Affleck won the guild award for "Argo" in 2013, but he was denied a best director nomination at the Oscars. Last year, Alfonso Cuar n won both awards for "Gravity."
Saturday night's ceremony will be hosted by "Glee" star Jane Lynch with Matt Bomer, Chadwick Boseman, Pierce Brosnan, Bradley Cooper, Bill Murray, Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand among the list of presenters.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang