Directors Guild Awards 2022: Nominations for First-Time Directors

Directors of Aftersun, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story and Emily the Criminal, among others, compete for guild’s best first feature award.


Eric Appel (Weird: The Al Yankovic Story)
The parody musician “Weird Al” Yankovic co-wrote the script of his own satirical biopic, which stars Daniel Radcliffe in the title role. Appel’s film charts Yankovic’s rise to fame as well as his fictionalized relationship with Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood).

Elegance Bratton (The Inspection)

Bratton’s first narrative feature (he helmed the 2019 documentary Pier Kids) is an autobiographical chronicle of a gay man (Jeremy Pope), who joins the Marines when he feels he has nowhere to turn after being rejected by his homophobic mother (Gabrielle Union).

Regina Hall leads this horror film as Gail Bishop, the first Black woman to serve as dean of students at a prestigious college. Along with two other Black women at the school, Gail discovers a disturbing underlying presence at the predominantly white institution.

Adamma Ebo (Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.)

After a major sex scandal, the power couple (Regina Hall again, this time with Sterling K. Brown) running a Southern Baptist megachurch are forced to close its doors. They then hire a documentary crew to capture their attempts to reopen.


Parker Finn (Smile)

This box office hit (real sleeper) has earned more than $216 million worldwide. It tells the story of a therapist who, after witnessing traumatic event, begins to believe she is haunted by something otherworldly. Finn adapted it from his 2020 short film, “Laura Hasn’t Slept.”

John Patton Ford (Emily the Criminal)

Aubrey Plaza earned a Gotham Award nomination for playing the title character in Ford’s crime thriller about a young woman who, saddled with student loan debt, becomes involved in large-scale credit-card-scam ring.

Nikyatu Jusu (Nanny)

Jusu’s Nanny was the first horror film to win Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize. It follows an undocumented Senegalese woman who takes a job as caregiver for an affluent family in Manhattan, where an unsettling entity (from her past?) begins to haunt her.

Lila Neugebauer (Causeway)

Theater director Neugebauer’s film debut unites Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Handbook) with Atlanta star Brian Tyree Henry for a character study about an Army veteran returning to her hometown after suffering brain injury while stationed in Afghanistan.

The Office veteran Novak directs, writes and stars in this dark comedy about a New York journalist who travels south to investigate the death of a girl with whom he had a brief fling. He is seeking to turn the murder mystery into a podcast.

Charlotte Wells (Aftersun)

Wells won the Gotham Award for breakthrough director with her self-described “emotionally autobiographical” film that follows Sophie, who reflects on a trip she took to past-its-prime resort in Turkey with her loving but troubled father, Calum (Paul Mescal), 20 years earlier.