Does the DGA Win for ‘Gravity’ Predict a Best Picture Oscar?

Sandra Bullock, GravityWarner Bros via Everett Collection

Last week, we took a look at each of the awards circuits that have announced their winning picks for 2013, calculating just how good an indicator each one might be at predicting the Academy Awards top prize. Unsurprisingly, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle were the most common titles to take awards from venues like the Golden Globes, New York Film Critics Circle, Critics Choice Awards, and others. With the organizations carrying a variety of insight, statistically speaking, into what will be the Oscars’ big winner, we named 12 Years our Most Likely to Succeed at the 86th Annual Academy Awards… but that was before today’s news. See, this morning gave us the winner of the Director’s Guild of America Awards — historically, the best indicator of the Best Picture Oscar with a 90% consistency over the past 10 years and an 81% consistency overall — and it is third party candidate Gravity.

Alfonso Cuaron’s blockbuster has snagged the DGA, putting it in the company of ArgoThe ArtistThe King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, and many other features that went on to win Best Picture. In fact, the last movie to take the DGA but lose out on the top Oscar would be Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, a rarity as well for winning the Best Director Oscar but not Best Picture. Averaged with the precognitive capabilities of the Producers Guild of America (middling) and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (dismal) — in which Gravity tied as winner with 12 Years and Her, respectively — the space-set thriller is about even with Steve McQueen’s slavery epic in its chances to take home the Oscar.

Of course, math can only take you so far (despite what they tried to drill into your heads in grade school). The separating factor, come Academy season, will be that indefinable quality that makes something an “Oscar movie.” Not necessarily the best movie, but the one most palatable to the Academy’s appetite. Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are both terrific films, but the latter has a few points on its side. Although they might share the DGA with Gravity, movies like ArgoThe King’s SpeechThe Hurt LockerSlumdog MillionaireMillion Dollar Baby, et al have far more in common with 12 Years a Slave: they’re tales of history, adversity, injustice, human ugliness and human perseverence. Stories very much grounded on this Earth… something that Gravity, quite literally, might not be considered (at least by some).

But we applaud the DGA for recognizing Cuaron’s movie, and its other deserving winners (with special notice for the finales of Breaking Bad and 30 Rock). Peruse the winners list below!

The Directors Guild of America Awards

Feature Film
Winner: Gravity
Nominees: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street

Winner: Cutie and the Boxer
Nominees: The Act of Killing, The Crash Wheel, The Square, Stories We Tell

Dramatic Series
Winner: Breaking Bad: “Felina”
Nominees: Breaking Bad: “Blood Money,” Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere,” Homeland: “The Star,” House of Cards: “Chapter 1”

Comedy Series
Winner: 30 Rock: “Hogcock!/Last Lunch”
Nominees: The Big Bang Theory: “The Hofstadter Insufficiency,” The Big Bang Theory: “The Love Spell Potential,” Modern Family: “My Hero,” Modern Family: “The Old Man & the Tree”

TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner: Behind the Candelabra
Nominees: Killing Kennedy, Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, Phil Spector, The Sound of Music Live!

Variety/Talk/News/Sports Programming
Winner: Saturday Night Live: “Justin Timberlake”
Nominees: The Colbert Report: “#10004,” The Daily Show: “#19018,” Jimmy Kimmel Live: “#13-1810,” Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: “#799”

Variety/Talk/News/Sports Special
Winner: The 67th Annual Tony Awards
Nominees: 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, The 55th Annual Grammy Awards, The 85th Annual Academy Awards, Louis C.K.: Oh My God

Reality Programs
Winner: 72 Hours: “The Lost Coast”
Nominees: The Amazing Race: “Beards in the Wind,” The Biggest Loser: “1501,” The Hero: “Teamwork,” Top Chef: “Glacial Gourmand”

Children’s Programs
Winner: An Apology to Elephants
Nominees: A.N.T. Farm, Jinxed, Swindle, Teen Beach Movie

Winner: Martin de Thurah (The Man Who Couldn’t Slow Down, Hennessy VS/Human Race, Acura MDX 2014)
Nominees: Fredrik Bond (Voyage, Heineken; From The Future, Johnny Walker), John X. Carey (Real Beauty Sketches, Dove), Matthijs van Heijningen (Perfect Day, Sony Playstation; #Forty Eight, Verizon), Noam Murro (Basketball, Guinness; Kids, DIRECTV; MaskVolkswagen)