In what many will probably consider to be one of the most well-deserved and earned honors of the 2013 movie awards season, Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron was honored by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) with an Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for his outer space thriller Gravity at the 66th Annual DGA Awards Dinner, held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles this evening.
It was Cuaron’s first-ever nomination by the DGA although he had previously been nominated for three Oscars for the writing and editing of earlier films Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men. Cuaron’s DGA win follows closely after winning both a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Award for the direction of Gravity and having already been nominated by the Academy in their directing category, he is the clear frontrunner on Oscar night, March 2.
Cuaron spent over four years developing the technology, both in terms of cinematography and visual effects, in order to make the 3D space thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, and despite its $100 million production budget, the movie has already grossed $678.5 million worldwide and was the #7 highest-grossing movie domestically in 2013.
What does this mean for Gravity‘s chances as Best Picture on Oscar night? The DGA has one of the best track records in terms of predicting what movie might win the top prize from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Ten of the last twelve directors to take the top DGA honor, their movies went on to win Best Picture, although there were a couple of odd years like last year when Ben Affleck won the DGA Award but wasn’t even nominated by the Academy as a director. Argo won Best Picture anyway.
There was also 2005, when Ang Lee won his second DGA award for Brokeback Mountain, but that lost on Oscar night to Crash, which received strong backing from the Screen Actors Guild. Five years earlier, Lee won a DGA award for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but Ridley Scott’s Gladiator won Best Picture that year. In between, Rob Marshall won a DGA for his musical Chicago, but lost the Oscar for direction to Roman Polanski for his WWII drama The Pianist.
Cuaron’s DGA win makes the race for Best Picture an even more exciting and interesting one, since Gravity recently had an unprecedented tie with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave for the Producers Guild of America’s top honor. This year, the Screen Actors Guild gave their top honor to the Ensemble Cast of David O. Russell’s American Hustle, which also received four acting nods at the Oscars.
In other words, Best Picture is still very much a three movie race with Cuaron’s Gravity getting an enormous boost from the DGA win that could put it over the top. (It also doesn’t hurt that it’s the highest-grossing movie in the running between the three movies in question.)
As far as the other awards given out by the DGA, Jehane Noujaim was honored for her Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary for her direction of The Square, while directors that won awards at the ceremony in the TV categories included Steven Soderbergh for HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra,” Vince Gilligan for AMC’s “Breaking Bad” (Dramatic Series) and Beth McCarthy-Miller for “30 Rock” (Comedy Series).
You can view the full list of winners on the Official DGA site.
(Photo Credit: Brian To/WENN.com)