Alfonso Cuarón, Bo Burnham Win Film Honors at 71st DGA Awards

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Photo Source: ‘Roma’: Carlos Samonte

Hosted by Aisha Tyler at the Hollywood & Highland Center’s Ray Dolby Ballroom Feb. 2, the 71st annual Directors Guild of America Awards recognized the best filmmaking of 2018. Taking home the top accolade for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film was Alfonso Cuarón for his Netflix hit “Roma,” which is nominated for a leading 10 Oscars at the upcoming Academy Awards. The Mexican writer-director-editor-cinematographer is no stranger to the DGA Awards; after 2013’s “Gravity,” this marks his second time winning the guild’s highest honor.

In the DGA’s television categories, three filmmakers known for on- and off-screen comedy earned recognition for their directorial achievements. Adam McKay, also a nominee alongside Cuarón for Annapurna Pictures’ “Vice,” won the dramatic series award for HBO’s “Succession”; Bill Hader won in the comedic series category for directing the pilot episode of HBO’s “Barry”; and Ben Stiller was recognized for his Showtime limited series “Escape at Dannemora.”

For his A24 debut feature “Eighth Grade,” writer-director-comedian Bo Burnham won the coveted first-time feature award. He beat out Boots Riley for Annapurna Pictures’ “Sorry to Bother You,” Matthew Heineman for Aviron Pictures’ “A Private War,” Carlos López Estrada for Summit Entertainment’s “Blindspotting,” and Bradley Cooper for Warner Brothers’ “A Star Is Born.” The latter was also included in the top feature film DGA category, making this year the first time a filmmaker has been nominated for both honors and gone home empty-handed. None of this year’s first-time feature nominees were nominated for the directing Oscar.

READ: Brush up on Recent Best Director Oscar Winners + Their Films

Also worth noting is the DGA’s lack of representation when it comes to female filmmakers; all the winners of competitive awards and feature film nominees this year were male. In the 71-year history of the top feature film category only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow, has earned the prize. Bigelow is also the only female winner of the Oscar for best director.

Live TV director Don Mischer was the recipient of the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction; FX Networks was recognized with the Diversity Award; Kathleen McGill was given the Frank Capra Achievement Award; and Mimi Deaton received the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award for career achievement.

For 71 years the DGA Awards have recognized achievement in film as well as television, documentary, variety shows, and commercials. The guild represents more than 17,500 directors and artists behind the camera. For a full list of their 2019 winners, visit their official site.

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Jack Smart
Jack Smart is the awards editor at Backstage, where he covers all things Emmy, SAG, Oscar, and Tony Awards. He also produces and hosts Backstage’s awards podcast “In the Envelope” and has interviewed some of the biggest stars of stage and screen.
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