For those who like playing Oscar pools, DGA nominations tend to be a good harbinger for the actual Oscar nominations. So it’s worth noting what made the cut: Michel Hazanavicius‘s The Artist, Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris, Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo, Alexander Payne‘s The Descendants, and David Fincher‘s The Girl With Dragon Tattoo all got nominated today.

The most surprising omissions are Tate Taylor for The Help, Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life, and Steven Spielberg‘s War Horse. Taylor being left out suggests that the film – though it should receive a number of nominations – will mostly have heat in the acting categories, and is probably not going to get the best picture prize. Malick’s Tree of Life had its best shot of getting love in the direction category (though best cinematography is all but assured), and this lack of inclusion means that it’s unlikely that Tree will be a sneak-in best picture nomination. The lack of Spielberg is probably the most surprising, and also suggests the film is not getting Oscar traction, though he could be in and Fincher could be out when the nominations finally come in.

Fincher getting is probably the most surprising inclusion – Allen and Scorsese are both old timers and beloved, though have a low chance of actually winning, while Payne and Hazanavicius are behind two of the most obvious best picture nominees. Dragon Tattoo screened late, and so it could be a surprise picture nominee – though Rooney Mara’s chances of getting nominated for best actress just went up – though this could also be an apology vote to those who thought he should have won last year for The Social Network.

What all this says is that The Artist is now clearly the front-runner.

Who would you vote for as Best director this year?