On Monday, the most important precursor announcement of them all drops: the Directors Guild of America offers up its list of nominees for excellence in directing.
Except it isn't really about "excellence in directing" for this crowd. It really never has been. It's a chance for the organization to speak up on its picks for the "Best Picture" of the year.
There have been happy aberrations along the way, like Cameron Crowe getting recognized for "Almost Famous" or Christopher Nolan getting a surprising tip of the hat for "Memento." But while the group has dipped into "lone director" territory before (Mike Figgis, Ridley Scott), largely this has been about picking the five top films of the year, which often go on to be the eventual Best Picture nominees with the Academy. So the question is, why has the DGA's announcement so often been a reliable indicator of where the Academy will go with Best Picture?