Art and Experience: “The Revenant” director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has won the Directors Guild of America award for 2015’s top feature film — marking the first back-to-back DGA win for any director.
An emotional Inarritu fought back tears on accepting the trophy from “The King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper.
“I never expected to win this award, truly,” Inarritu said. “I’m… paralyzed. Tough men don’t cry, that’s what Ridley Scott said today.”
He noted that his late father had died two years ago and that he believed the award represented a validation for his native country of Mexico.
‘This embrace is going to a whole country,” he said. “Your embrace makes me feel happy.”
He told the crowd at the Century Plaza that he had met earlier in the evening with the food servers — many of whom were Mexican. Speaking backstage, he admitted it was the first time he’d ever wept in public and noted that part of the reason was that narrative of “The Revenant” — fur trapper Hugh Glass dealing with the death of his mixed-race son — was so personal to him.
Inarritu also slammed Donald Trump backstage for his proposal to build a wall on the U.S. Mexico border.
“The power of this country is diversity,” he said. “Building a wall betrays that.”
The DGA win places “The Revenant” in the role of favorite for the directing Oscar. It’s one of the top indicators of Oscar sentiment with all but seven of the DGA winners since 1948 going on to take the Best Director Oscar. The last divergence came in 2013 when Ben Affleck won the won the DGA award for “Argo” even though he did not receive an Oscar nom.
Directors make up about 6% of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. McCarthy, McKay and Miller are also nominated for the Oscar along with “Room” director Lenny Abrahamson while Scott was excluded from the Oscars.
Inarritu joins a select group of directors who have won the DGA trophy twice including Ang Lee, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, George Stevens, David Lean, Ron Howard and Joseph Mankiewicz. Steven Spielberg is the only director to have won the DGA feature trophy three times.
“Game of Thrones” director David Nutter won the Directors Guild drama series award for the “Mother’s Mercy” episode. Chris Addison won the comedy series award for “Veep” for the “Election Night” episode.
Dee Rees won the TV movie-miniseries award for “Bessie,” the biopic of pioneering blues singer Bessie Smith.
Nutter, Addison and Reese were first-time winners.
Matthew Heineman won the documentary award for “Cartel Land,” centered on the Mexican drug war. “Cartel Land” topped “Amy,” “Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief,” “Meru,” and “What Happened, Miss Simone?” “I hope this film will give voice to those trapped in the cycle of violence,” Heineman said in his acceptance.
“Amy,” “Cartel Land” and “What Happened, Miss Simone” have each received Oscar nominations.
Alex Garland won the first-time feature award for “Ex Machina” at the Directors Guild of America Awards.
The award, presented by Steven Spielberg, was the first honor announced Saturday night at the DGA’s 68th annual awards ceremonies at the Century Plaza.
It was the inaugural award for the DGA’s first-time director trophy. Spielberg noted that had the award existed previously, it would have gone to Orson Welles for “Citizen Kane” and John Singleton for “Boyz in the Hood.”
Garland directed “Ex Machina” from his own script. The film, which stars Alicia Vikander as an android, topped Fernando Coimbra for “A Wolf at the Door,” Joel Edgerton for “The Gift,” Marielle Heller for “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and Laszlo Nemes for “Son of Saul.”
The ceremonies included presentations of medallions to each nominee for the feature film award by prominent cast members. Leonardo DiCaprio presented “The Revenant” director Alejandro Inarritu with his medal; Rachel McAdams presented “Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy with his; and Matt Damon presented to “The Martian” director Ridley Scott.
Jon Favreau, subbing for Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, presented George Miller with the medal for “Mad Max: Fury Road.” “It’s a tour de force that had me just as excited as ‘Mad Max’ had me in high school,” he noted.
Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling presented Adam McKay with his medallion for “The Big Short.” McKay announced “The Big Short” will be screened for Congress next week with bipartisan support. “We’ll see how long that lasts,” he added.
Kenny Ortega won the children’s award for “Descendants.” He recalled that he joined the DGA three decades ago when John Hughes asked him to direct the dance sequence in “Ferris Bueler’s Day Off.”
Andreas Nilsson of Biscuit Filmworks won the commercials award and received big laughs for his acceptance, saying, “I love you even though I don’t know you personally.”
Adam Vetri won the reality TV award for “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge.” Dave Diomedi won the Variety/talk/news/sports series award for “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon”; Don Roy King won Variety/talk/news/sports specials award for “Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special.”
The awards are based on voting by the 16,000 members of the DGA.
At the opening of the ceremonies, DGA president Paris Barclay addressed the diversity issue, saying, “The hard fight to convince the industry that equal opportunity means just that: a level playing field.”
He also told the crowd that no date had been set for the guild’s negotiations for a successor deal to its master contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The current deal expires on June 30, 2017.
The DGA annonced that next year’s awards show will be held Feb. 4 at the Beverly Hilton.