Directors Guild Awards 2020: Sam Mendes Wins Top Prize for ‘1917’

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Sam Mendes has been named the best feature-film director of 2019 by the Directors Guild of America, which handed out its annual awards on Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton in Los Angeles.

The win makes the “1917” director a commanding front-runner in the Oscar race for Best Directors — and coupled with his film’s victory at the Producers Guild Awards last week, makes the World War I drama the favorite to win Best Picture winner as well.

Mendes beat his fellow Oscar nominees Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”), Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”) and Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”), as well as “Jojo Rabbit” director Taika Waititi.

The DGA Award is one of the most reliable Oscar predictors, with the winner going on to win the Academy Award for Best Director for the last six years in a row, 15 times in the last 16 years and 62 times in 71 years.

In addition, the film whose director wins the DGA historically has a greater than 75 percent chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar, but that figure has been slipping lately. The two awards have coincided only twice in the last six years, with “The Shape of Water” two years ago and “Birdman” in 2014. The other three years, Alfonso Cuarón won the DGA and the Best Director awards for “Gravity,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu for “The Revenant,” Damien Chazelle for “La La Land” and Cuarón again for “Roma,” while the Best Picture Oscars went to “12 Years a Slave,” “Spotlight,” “Moonlight” and “Green Book,” respectively.

Also Read: ‘American Factory’ Named Top Documentary at Cinema Eye Honors

Alma Har’el, one of three female directors in the first-time feature directing category, won for her work on “Honey Boy,” while Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert won the documentary award for “American Factory.”

Bill Hader won the comedy-series award for the “ronny/lily” episode of his TV series “Barry.” The drama-series award went to Nicole Kassell, one of two directors nominated for different episodes of “Watchmen.” The television movie or limited series award went to Johan Renck for “Chernobyl.”

Don Roy King won an award for directing an episode of “Saturday Night Live” for the fourth consecutive year, while James Burrows and Andy Fisher won for “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’.”

Also Read: Norman Lear Becomes Oldest Emmy Winner at 97

The DGA is the third of the four major Hollywood guilds to announce its awards. The Screen Actors Guild gave its ensemble-acting award to “Parasite,” while the Producers Guild chose “1917” as the best-produced film of 2019.

The last of the major guilds, the Writers Guild, will announce its awards on Feb. 1.

Also Read: ‘1917’ Named Top Film at Producers Guild Awards

Here is the complete list of Directors Guild Award nominees. Winners are indicated by **WINNER.

Feature Film
Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite”
Sam Mendes, “1917” **WINNER
Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”
Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
Taika Waititi, “Jojo Rabbit”

First-Time Feature Film
Mati Diop, “Atlantics”
Alma Har’el, “Honey Boy” **WINNER
Melina Matsoukas, “Queen & Slim”
Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz, “The Peanut Butter Falcon”
Joe Talbot, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

Documentary Feature
Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, “American Factory” **WINNER
Feras Fayyad, “The Cave”
Alex Holmes, “Maiden”
Ljubomir Stefanov & Tamara Kotevska, “Honeyland”
Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, “One Child Nation”

Dramatic Series
Nicole Kassell, “Watchmen,” “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice” **WINNER
Mark Mulod, “Succession,” “This Is Not For Tears”
David Nutter, “Game of Thrones,” “The Last of the Starks”
Miguel Sapochnik, “Game of Thrones,” “The Long Night”
Stephen Williams, “Watchmen,” “This Extraordinary Being”

Comedy Series
Dan Attias, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “It’s the Sixties, Man!”
Bill Hader, “Barry,” “ronny/lily” **WINNER
David Mandel, “Veep,” “Veep”
Amy Sherman Palladino, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “It’s Comedy or Cabbage”
Dan Palladino, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, “Marvelous Radio”

Movies for Television and Limited Series
Ava DuVernay, “When They See Us”
Vince Gilligan, “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie”
Thomas Kail, “Fosse/Verdon,” “Nowadays”
Johan Renck, “Chernobyl” **WINNER
Minkie Spiro, “Fosse/Verdon,” “All I Care About Is Love”
Jessica Yu, “Fosse/Verdon, “”Glory”

Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Regular Scheduled Programming
Paul G. Casey, “Real Time With Bill Maher,” “1730”
Nora S. Gerard, “CBS Sunday Morning,” “40th Anniversary”
Jim Hoskinson, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “A. Ocasio-Cortez; Incubus”
Don Roy King, “Saturday Night Live,” “E. Murphy; Lizzo” **WINNER
Paul Pennolino, Christopher Werner, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “SLAPP Suits”

Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials
James Burrows, Andy Fisher, “Live in Front of a Studio Audience Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’” **WINNER
Spike Jonze, “Aziz Ansari: Right Now”
Stan Lathan, “Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones”
Linda Mendoza, “Wanda Sykes: Not Normal”
Glenn Weiss, “The 91st Annual Academy Awards

Reality Programs
Hisham Abed, “Queer Eye,” “Black Girl Magic”
Jason Cohen, “Encore!,” “Annie” **WINNER
Jon Favreau, “The Chef Show,” “Hog Island”
Ashley S. Gorman, “First Responders Live,” “103”
Patrick McManus, “American Ninja Warrior,” “1116 Las Vegas National Finals Night 4”

Children’s Programs
Dean Israelite, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?,” “Part One: Submitted for Your Approval”
Jack Jameson, “Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Special”
Luke Matheny, “Ghostwriter,” “Ghost in Wonderland, Part 1”
Amy Schatz, “Song of Parkland” **WINNER
Barry Sonnenfeld, “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Penultimate Peril: Part 1”

Fredrik Bond (MJZ)
“Lighter Than Air,” HP Elite Dragonfly – Media Monks
“Take it Lightly,” Coca-Cola Light – Ingo
“Nap,” iPhone – Apple
Spike Jonze (MJZ) **WINNER
“Dream It,” Squarespace – Squarespace
“The New Normal,” Medmen – Mekanism
Mark Molloy (Smuggler)
“Underdogs,” Apple – Apple
Ridley Scott (RSA Films)
“The Seven Worlds,” Hennessy X.O. – DDB Paris
Dougal Wilson (Furlined)
“Train,” AT&T – BBDO NY

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