Director Chloé Zhao won the marquee honor at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards for Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures). She becomes the second woman--and the first woman of color--to earn the top DGA prize. Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman director to score the kudo for 2090’s The Hurt Locker.
In her acceptance remarks via Zoom during Saturday night’s (4/10) virtual ceremony, Zhao paid tribute to each of her fellow nominees: Lee Isaac Chung for Minari; Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman; David Fincher for Mank; and Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Zhao said Chung’s Minari touched her on a deeply personal level, movingly conveying “beauty and love” within a family.
She cited Fennell’s deft control of craft, being so “brilliant and daring” with “a unique voice,” adding, “I can’t wait to see what thought provoking journey you’re going to pick up on next.”
Zhao told Sorkin, “I can feel my heart beating with yours when I watch your film.”
And she described all of Fincher’s movies as “a master class” in filmmaking and storytelling, crediting him with capturing some of “the most nuanced and humanistic performances” she’s ever seen.
With the DGA win, Zhao becomes the clear frontrunner for the Best Director Oscar. Only eight times in the DGA’s 70-year-plus history has the Guild winner not gone on to take the corresponding Oscar. She is among a group of Best Director Oscar nominees this year which also is comprised of Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round, along with Chung, Fennell and Fincher.
First-time feature, documentary, TV winners
Winning the DGA Award for Outstanding Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director was Darius Marder for Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios). He topped a field consisting of fellow nominees Radha Blank for The Forty-Year-Old Version, Fernando Frias de la Parra for I’m No Longer Here, Regina King for One Night in Miami...., and Florian Zeller for The Father.
Topping the Documentary category were Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw for The Truffle Hunters (Sony Pictures Classics).
Among the DGA winners across TV categories were: Leslie Linka Glatter in the Dramatic Series category for the Homeland (Showtime) “Prisoners of War” episode; Susanna Fogel in Comedy Series for the “In Case of Emergency” episode of The Flight Attendant (HBO); Scott Frank in Limited Series for The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix); Don Roy King for Variety on the strength of the “Dave Chappelle, Foo Fighters” installment of Saturday Night Live (NBC); Thomas Schlamme in Variety Specials for A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote (HBO Max); Joseph Guidry in Reality Programs for the “Petal to the Metal” episode of Full Bloom (HBO Max); and Amy Schatz in Children’s Programs for We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest (HBO).
Winning the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials was Melina Matsoukas of PRETTYBIRD for Beats by Dr. Dre’s “You Love Me” (see separate story here).
Director and past DGA president Paris Barclay was the recipient of the DGA Honorary Life Member Award in recognition of leadership in the industry, contribution to the Guild and the profession of directing, and outstanding career achievement.
Betty Thomas received the Robert B. Aldrich Award recognizing extraordinary service to the Guild.
Brian E. Frankish received the Frank Capra Achievement Award, which is given to an assistant director or unit production manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the DGA.
And Joyce Thomas received the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which is given to an associate director or stage manager in recognition of service to the industry and to the DGA.
Here’s a full category-by-category rundown of this evening’s DGA Award winners:
OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN THEATRICAL FEATURE FILM FOR 2020
Ms. Zhao’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Mary Kerrigan
First Assistant Director: Mary Kerrigan
OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT OF A FIRST-TIME FEATURE FILM DIRECTOR FOR 2020
Sound of Metal
Mr. Marder’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Amy Greene
First Assistant Director: Matthew Vose Campbell
MICHAEL DWECK & GREGORY KERSHAW
The Truffle Hunters
(Sony Pictures Classics)
LESLI LINKA GLATTER
Homeland, “Prisoners of War”
Ms. Glatter’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Managers: Michael Klick, Philippa Naughten
First Assistant Director: Sunday Stevens
Second Assistant Director: Wendy Bledsoe
The Flight Attendant, “In Case of Emergency”
Ms. Fogel’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Bonnie Muñoz
First Assistant Director: Derek Peterson
Second Assistant Director: Jacquie Dore
Second Second Assistant Director: Zach Citarella
Location Manager: Chris Banks
MOVIES FOR TELEVISION AND LIMITED SERIES
The Queen’s Gambit
Mr. Frank’s Directorial Team:
First Assistant Director: Aldric La’auli Porter
VARIETY/TALK/NEWS/SPORTS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING
DON ROY KING
Saturday Night Live, “Dave Chappelle; Foo Fighters”
Mr. King’s Directorial Team:
Associate Directors: Michael Mancini, Michael Poole, Laura Ouziel-Mack
Stage Managers: Gena Rositano, Chris Kelly, Eddie Valk
VARIETY/TALK/NEWS/SPORTS – SPECIALS
A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote
Mr. Schlamme’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Debra James
First Assistant Director: Shawn Pipkin-West
Second Assistant Director: Courtney Franklin
Second Second Assistant Directors: Ni’cole Pettis, Cathy Bond
Full Bloom, “Petal to the Metal”
Mr. Guidry’s Directorial Team:
Associate Director: Sean Galvin
Lead Stage Manager: Jimmy Chriss
Stage Managers: Rachel Shimko, Kristianna Laroda, Richard Melendez
We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest
You Love Me, Beats by Dr. Dre - Translation
First Assistant Director: Paul Norman
Second Assistant Director: Don Johnson