Nomadland director Chloe Zhao confirmed her status as Oscar frontrunner on Saturday (April 10) as she became only the second woman and the first woman of colour to win the top honour at the Directors Guild Of America’s virtual 73rd Annual DGA Awards.
Not since Kathryn Bigelow won Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Theatrical Feature Film for The Hurt Locker in 2010 has a woman claimed the top prize. Bigelow went on to become the first woman to win the directing Oscar in the same season and it would take a brave person to bet against Zhao following suit on April 25.
Zhao, nominated for a Bafta on Sunday, is nearing the end of an awards run that has brought recognition from National Society of Film Critics, Broadcast Film Critics Association, New York and Los Angeles critics groups, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, among others.
What is also in her favour is the DGA Awards’ status as a robust indicator of likely Academy Awards success. All but eight winners in 72 years have gone on to lift the best directing Oscar.
In other awards, Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw won the documentary prize for The Truffle Hunters, while Darius Marder was named best first-time feature director for The Sound Of Metal.
In the TV categories, Lesli Linka Glatter won best dramatic series directing for the Homeland episode Prisoners Of War, while Susanna Fogel took corresponding comedy honours for The Flight Attendant episode In Case Of Emergency, and Scott Frank prevailed in the TV movies and limited series category for The Queen’s Gambit.
FEATURE AND SELECT TV WINNERS:
Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Theatrical Feature Film
Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (Searchlight Features)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Documentary
Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, The Truffle Hunters (Sony Pictures Classics)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement Of A First-Time Feature Film Director
Darius Marder, The Sound Of Metal (Amazon Studios)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Dramatic Series
Lesli Linka Glatter, Homeland, “Prisoners Of War” (Showtime)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Comedy Series
Susanna Fogel, The Flight Attendant, “In Case Of Emergency” (HBO Max)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Movies For Television And Limited Series
Scott Frank, The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
Honorary Life Member & Service Award Recipients
Director and former president Paris Barclay received 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 recognising extraordinary service to the Guild.
Brian E. Frankish received the Frank Capra Achievement Award, given to an assistant director or unit production manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the Directors Guild Of America.
Joyce Thomas received the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, given to an associate director or stage manager in recognition of service to the industry and to the Directors Guild Of America.