Christopher Nolan Wins Marquee Feature Honor At DGA Awards For "Oppenheimer"
Christopher Nolan, director of the film "Oppenheimer," poses with his DGA Award for Theatrical Feature Film backstage at the 76th DGA Awards, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Celine Song takes first-time feature award for "Past Lives"; Peter Hoar tops TV drama series category with "The Last of Us"; comedy series honor goes to Christopher Storer for "The Bear"
  • BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.
  • --

Christopher Nolan won the marquee feature prize at the 76th Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards on Saturday night (2/10) for Oppenheimer.

This makes Nolan the frontrunner to win the Best Director Oscar. Only eight times over the past 75 years has the DGA Award winner not gone on to win the Oscar. That happened most recently in 2020 when Sam Mendes won the DGA Award for 1917 while Bong Joon- ho scored the Oscar for Parasite.

Nolan topped a field of nominees which also consisted of: Greta Gerwig for Barbie; Yorgos Lanthimos for Poor Things; Alexander Payne for The Holdovers; and Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon.

The Guild’s other theatrical motion picture award--named after the late filmmaker Michael Apted in recognition of outstanding achievement by a first-time feature director--went to Celine Song for Past Lives.

On the TV side, the major winners were: Peter Hoar who topped the drama series category for the “Long, Long Time” episode of The Last of Us; and Christopher Storer who scored the comedy series honor for the “Fishes” episode of The Bear.

The evening also had its share of emotional moments. In accepting the award for achievement in documentary filmmaking for 20 Days in Mariupol--chronicling Russia’s siege of the Ukranian port city and the wartime atrocities committed in Ukraine--director Mstyslav Chernov noted that the DGA Award hardware isn’t impenetrable enough “to stop a bullet” or “to protect a child from shrapnel.” Chernov noted that earlier in the day his home town in Ukraine had been bombed, resulting in seven deaths--three of whom were children. 

Still, though, Chernov hailed the power of cinema to help bring awareness of situations to the world at large. He added that cinema serves another purpose as well, relating that when people in Ukraine flee to basements in order to escape aerial bombing, they often watch movies while trapped underground--as a diversion, another form of escapism from the stark reality they face on a daily basis. Chernov affirmed that film helps us expose as well as escape “unbearable” and “unfair” worlds.

Another moving award acceptance came from David Nutter, recipient of the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award for Television Direction, recognizing a body of work that includes Game of Thrones, The X-Files and ER. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease--and dealing with its impact on the central nervous system--Nutter brought the DGA audience to its feet twice in an inspiring show of resilience. At one point, he declared himself lucky, saying that battling the disease has made him “a better director,” more attuned to the human condition and the emotional heartbeat of actors. Nutter concluded by declaring that he’s looking forward to getting back to work.

Among the evening’s other winners were  Michael Mancini and Liz Patrick for Saturday Night Live, specifically the “Pedro Pascal/Coldplay” episode which topped the regularly scheduled variety/talk/news/sports category; Paul Miller who took the variety/talk/news/sports specials category for Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love; and Kim Gehrig who earned distinction as best commercial director of the year (see separate story here). 

In addition to Nutter’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Guild presented two other special honors. The 2024 Frank Capra Achievement Award was given to unit production manager Janet Knutsen for her exceptional work and dedication to the DGA. And Gary Natoli was named the 2024 Franklin J. Schaffner Award winner for his exceptional work as a stage manager and tireless service to the Guild.

Judd Apatow hosted the DGA Awards ceremony before an audience of more than 1100 guests. 

Here’s a category-by-category rundown of winners:

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN THEATRICAL FEATURE FILM FOR 2023:
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
Oppenheimer
(Universal Pictures)
Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Managers: Thomas Hayslip, Nathan Kelly, Rafael Lima (New Jersey / New York Unit)
• First Assistant Director: Nilo Otero
• Second Assistant Director: Andrew Stahl
• Second Second Assistant Director: Jesse Carmona
• Additional Second Assistant Directors: Dixon McPhillips, Richard Molloy (New Jersey / New York Unit),
AJ Jackson (New Jersey / New York Unit)
• Location Manager: Patty Carey Perazzo (New Jersey / New York Unit)

 

 

MICHAEL APTED AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT OF A FIRST-TIME THEATRICAL FEATURE FILM DIRECTOR FOR 2023:
CELINE SONG
Past Lives
(A24)
Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Manager: Kerry Johnson
• First Assistant Director: Ben Kahn
• Second Assistant Director: Geraldine Schubert
• Second Second Assistant Director: Dan Levy
• Location Manager: Joseph Mullaney

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMATIC SERIES FOR 2023:
PETER HOAR
The Last of Us, “Long, Long Time”
(HBO | MAX)
Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Manager: Cecil O’Connor
• First Assistant Director: Bethan Mowat

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY SERIES FOR 2023:
CHRISTOPHER STORER
The Bear, “Fishes”
(FX)
Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Managers: Tyson Bidner, Carrie Holt de Lama
• First Assistant Directors: Duccio Fabbri, Pablo Gambetta
• Second Assistant Director: Larissa Malarek
• Second Second Assistant Directors: Olivia Dame, Hiro Taniguchi, Lauren Mrozek
• Location Manager: Maria C. Roxas

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN MOVIES FOR TELEVISION AND LIMITED SERIES FOR 2023:
SARAH ADINA SMITH
Lessons in Chemistry, “Her and Him”
(Apple TV+)
Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Manager: Steven Brown
• First Assistant Director: Kristofer Kolpek
• Second Assistant Director: Deborah Chung
• Second Second Assistant Directors: Gabriella Vidal, Jake Halstead

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN VARIETY/TALK/NEWS/SPORTS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING FOR 2023:
MICHAEL MANCINI & LIZ PATRICK
Saturday Night Live, “Pedro Pascal / Coldplay”
(NBC)
Directorial Team:
• Associate Directors: Janine DeVito, Michael Poole, Laura Ouziel-Mack
• Stage Managers: Gena Rositano, Chris Kelly, Eddie Valk

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN VARIETY/TALK/NEWS/SPORTS – SPECIALS FOR 2023:
PAUL MILLER
Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love
(NBC)
Directorial Team:
• Associate Director: Sara Niimi
• Stage Managers: Gary Natoli, Alissa Levisohn Hoyo, Christopher McDonald, Jackie Stathis

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN REALITY SERIES FOR 2023:
NIHARIKA DESAI
Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss, “Happiness is a Bottle of Cod Liver Oil”
(Peacock)

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN CHILDREN’S PROGRAMS FOR 2023:
AMY SCHATZ
Stand Up & Shout: Songs From A Philly High School
(HBO | MAX)

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMMERCIALS FOR 2023:
KIM GEHRIG
(Somesuch)
Run This Town, Apple Music – Apple (Client Direct)
• First Assistant Director: Zaida Fakih
The Travelers, Expedia – Wieden & Kennedy
• First Assistant Director: David Webb

 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DOCUMENTARY FOR 2023:
MSTYSLAV CHERNOV
20 Days in Mariupol
(PBS Distribution)

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