- Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017
- BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.
With an all-time record tying high 14 Oscar nominations, La La Land (Lionsgate) continued to build Academy Awards momentum on Saturday (2/4) night as Damien Chazelle won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film. All but seven of the DGA winners since 1948 have gone on to take the Best Director Oscar.
Chazelle also made history by becoming at age 32 the youngest director to receive the DGA feature film honor. He'd earn that same youth-be-served distinction if he goes on to win the Academy Award for his direction.
Chazelle said that with La La Land, he "wanted to celebrate the act of dreaming and what art means. Art does connect people and transcend borders. I want to be part of that transnational dialogue of movies."
La La Land introduces us to Mia (portrayed by Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern-day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams
Chazelle topped a field of DGA Award nominees which also included Garth Davis for Lion, Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, and Dennis Villeneuve for Arrival.
While Davis didn't garner the marquee prize at the DGA ceremony, he did come away a winner for Lion (The Weinstein Company), topping the First Time Feature directing category, now in its second year.
Based on a true story and adapted from the memoir “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley, Lion introduces us to a five-year-old Saroo who gets lost, ending up on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from his home and family. Somehow he survives living on the streets, escaping close calls before ending up in an orphanage that is far from a safe haven. Eventually he is adopted by an Australian couple who takes him to Hobart where he feels love and security. In respect of and not wanting to hurt the feelings of his adoptive parents whom he loves, Saroo suppresses his past and the hope of ever finding his lost mother and brother. But a chance meeting with some fellow Indians rekindles his past as he struggles to find himself. With a small store of memories, and the help of a then new technology called Google Earth, he ultimately decides to try to find the proverbial needle in a haystack, seeking out his original home and first family.
In his acceptance remarks, Davis said he was "lucky" to be 'gifted with a magnificent and beautiful story." But with that came the responsibility of doing justice to that story. Towards that end, Davis said he was blessed with Sunny Pawar, a five-year-old actor who didn't speak English yet managed to carry the first half of the film.
Later, Davis noted that especially gratifying to him has been the feedback he's received from people touched by Lion, including a couple who said the film inspired them to adopt a youngster, and refugees who credited the movie with giving them the courage to try to find the loved ones they left behind when forced to leave their home countries due to persecution or imminent danger.
Davis made his first directorial mark in commercials before successfully diversifying into TV (with the BBC/Sundance Top of the Lake series which he and Jane Campion directed) and feature films with Lion. Davis has since embarked on his seconed feature, Mary Magdalene.
He continues to be active in spots and branded content through production house RESET in the U.S., Academy at RESET in the UK , and Exit Films in Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking of commercials, first-time nominee Derek Cianfrance of RadicalMedia earned the DGA Award for best spot director of 2016 (see separate story).
An evening of firsts
Several other first-time DGA nominees came away winners: director Ezra Edelman took the Documentary category on the strength of O.J.:Made in America (ESPN Films); Becky Martin won for Achievement in TV Comedy Series for the "Inauguration" episode of Veep (HBO); Miguel Sapochnik topped the TV Drama Series competition with "The Battle of the Bastards" episode of Game of Thrones (HBO); Steven Zaillian was victorious in the Movies for TV and Miniseries category for The Night Of (HBO); and Tina Mabry was honored in Children's Programs for An American Girl Story--Melody 1983; Love Has to Win (Amazon).
On the flip side, prior nominees also got into the winners' circle. Glenn Weiss, with 13 career nods, won for The 70th Annual Tony Awards (CBS) which took the Variety/Talk/News/Sports-Specials category. This was the seventh time Weiss won a DGA Award, the others coming in 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Don Roy King, who's amassed 11 career DGA nominations, topped the Variety/Talk/News/Sports-Regularly Scheduled Programming category for the Saturday Night Live (NBC) episode hosted by Dave Chappelle. King is now a three-time DGA winner, the first two coming in 2013 and 2015.
A nominee seven times in his career, J. Rupert Thompson won the Reality Programs honor for "The Finale-Over the Falls" installment of American Grit (FOX). This was Thompson's second career DGA Award, the first having been in 2005.
Lauded director Sir Ridley Scott of Scott Free (TV, features) and RSA Films (commercials, branded content) was given the 35th Directors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Christopher Nolan, Billy Crudup and Michael Fassbender.
Jay D. Roth was presented with the DGA Presidents Award, given for leadership and extraordinary efforts in enhancing the welfare and image of the Guild and the industry. This honor is bestowed only by a unanimous vote of the sitting and former DGA Presidents.
Thomas Schlamme won the Robert B. Aldrich Service Award in recognition of extraordinary service to the DGA and to its membership.
And Marie Cantin received the Frank Capra Achievement Award, given to an assistant director or unit production manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the DGA.
Here's a rundown of DGA winners:
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
La La Land (Lionsgate)
Mr. Chazelle’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Michael Beugg
First Assistant Director: Peter Kohn
Second Assistant Director: Paula Case
Assistant Unit Production Manager: Bart Lipton
Second Second Assistant Director: Brett Robinson
Additional Second Assistant Director: Dodi Rubenstein
This was Mr. Chazelle’s first DGA Award nomination.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in First-Time Feature Film
Lion (The Weinstein Company)
Mr. Davis’s Directorial Team:
Production Managers: Rajeev Mehra, Rakesh Singh (India Unit)
First Assistant Director: Chris Webb
First Assistant Director: Ananya Rane (India Unit)
Second Assistant Directors: Mark Ingram (Australia Unit), Sunny Tiku (India Unit), KP Singh (India Unit), Shaunak Kapur (India Unit)
This was one of two DGA Award nominations this year for Mr. Davis. He is also nominated in the Feature Film category for Lion. He was previously nominated for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials in 2009 for “Shadow Puppets,” U.S. Cellular.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series
Game of Thrones, “The Battle of the Bastards”
This was Mr. Sapochnik’s first DGA Award nomination.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series
Veep, “Inauguration” (HBO)
Ms. Martin’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: David Hyman
First Assistant Director: Dale Stern
Second Assistant Director: Michelle Gritzer
Second Second Assistant Director: Chris Riddle
Additional Second Assistant Director: Gary Cotti
This was Ms. Martin’s first DGA Award nomination.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series
The Night Of, “The Beach” (HBO)
Mr. Zaillian’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Greer Yeaton
First Assistant Director: Michael Steele
Second Assistant Director: Ginger Gonzalez
Second Second Assistant Director: Rachel Iovine
Location Manager: Shane Haden
This was Mr. Zaillian’s first DGA Award nomination.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Regularly Scheduled Programming
DON ROY KING
Saturday Night Live, “Host: Dave Chappelle” (NBC)
Mr. King’s Directorial Team:
Associate Directors: Michael Mancini, Michael Poole, Bob Caminiti
Stage Managers: Gena Rositano, Chris Kelly
This was Mr. King’s eleventh DGA Award nomination. He previously won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials in 2015 for Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special and for Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Regularly Scheduled Programming in 2013 for Saturday Night Live “Host: Justin Timberlake.” He was previously nominated for Saturday Night Live episodes in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, and in 2015 in the Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Regularly Scheduled Programming category for the Saturday Night Live episode, “Host: Tracy Morgan/Musical Guest: Demi Lovato.”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials
The 70th Annual Tony Awards (CBS)
Mr. Weiss’s Directorial Team:
Associate Directors: Ken Diego, Robin Abrams, Ricky Kirshner
Stage Managers: Garry Hood, Peter Epstein, Joey Despenzero, Phyllis Digilio-Kent, Andrew Feigin, Doug Fogel, Jeffry Gitter, Arthur Lewis, Jeffrey M. Markowitz, Cyndi Owgang, Jeff Pearl, Alfonso Pena, Annette Powlis, Elise Reaves, Lauren Class Schneider, Jim Semmelman
This was Mr. Weiss’s thirteenth DGA Award nomination. He previously won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials in 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 for the 61st, 64th, 65th, 66th, 67th and 68th Annual Tony Awards. He was also nominated in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008 for the 55th, 56th, 59th, 60th, and 62nd Annual Tony Awards. He was also nominated in 2015 for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series, together with Rob Ashford, for Peter Pan Live!
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs
J. RUPERT THOMPSON
American Grit, “The Finale ‑ Over the Falls” (FOX)
Mr. Thompson’s Directorial Team:
Associate Director: David Charles
Stage Managers: Daniel Curran, Kevin Fletcher
This was Mr. Thompson’s seventh DGA Award nomination. He previously won in this category in 2005 for Fear Factor, “Heist Fear Factor, Season 6 Premiere.” He was also nominated in 2006 for Fear Factor, “Military Fear Factor, Season Finale,” in 2008 for Estate of Panic, “102, That Sinking Feeling,” in 2011 for Fear Factor 2.0, “Scorpion Tales,” in 2012 for Stars Earn Stripes, “Amphibious Assault,” and in 2013 for The Hero, “Teamwork.”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs
An American Girl Story ‑ Melody 1963: Love Has to Win (Amazon)
Ms. Mabry’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Richard G. King
First Assistant Director: Otto Penzato
Second Assistant Director: David Berke
Second Second Assistant Director: Christopher H. Cook
Additional Second Assistant Directors: Candice Lee, Matthew W. Ross
This was Ms. Mabry’s first DGA Award nomination.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials
--"Chase," Nike Golf – Wieden + Kennedy Portland
First Assistant Director: Rick Lange
Second Assistant Director: Ethan Ross, Craig Sackett, Cue Chatley
Second Second Assistant Directors: Greg Moutran, Stephen Killebrew
--"Doubts," Powerade – Wieden + Kennedy Portland
First Assistant Director: Mariela Comitini
Second Assistant Director: Brad Robinson
--"Expectations," Powerade – Wieden + Kennedy Portland
First Assistant Director: Mariela Comitini
Second Assistant Director: Brad Robinson
--"Manifesto," Squarespace – Anomaly
First Assistant Director: David Backus
Second Assistant Director: Josh Voegelin
This was Mr. Cianfrance’s first DGA Award nomination.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary
O.J.: Made in America
This was Mr. Edelman’s first DGA Award nomination.