The prize from the American directors’ union was received by the director on Saturday evening. The guild winner most often ends up winning the Oscar for best director, nine times out of ten.
Oppenheimer has received another award, further solidifying its position as the favorite for the Oscars on March 10. The film’s director, Christopher Nolan, received the main prize from the American directors union (DGA), which is typically a reliable indicator for the Oscars, on Saturday. In almost 80 years, the guild’s winner has won the Oscar for best director nine times out of ten. The last discrepancy was in 2020 when the DGA voted for Sam Mendes for 1917, but the Oscars chose Bong Joon Ho for Parasite.
While Christopher Nolan is known for his complex blockbusters that are box office successes, he has always struggled more during awards season. Oppenheimer is his first win at the DGA Awards after five nominations. Despite being on track for Memento, The Dark Knight, Inception, and Dunkirk, he came back empty-handed. At the Oscars, where Oppenheimer is nominated in thirteen categories, the statistics are the same with five unsuccessful nominations in the directing and screenplay sections.
At the DGA Awards, Nolan expressed his gratitude, saying, “The idea that my peers think I deserve this award means everything to me.” He thanked his team for bringing his ambitious visions to life, including creating a stunning replica of the first atomic bomb test.
This year, the other directors competing for the DGA’s Best Film of the Year award were Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon, Greta Gerwig with Barbie, Yorgos Lanthimos with Poor Creatures, and Alexander Payne with Winter Break. However, only three of the DGA Awards nominees will be in the running for the Best Director Oscar.
The Oscars are becoming increasingly international, with the branch of directors deciding the five contenders for the statuette on March 10, nominating Frenchwoman Justine Triet for Anatomy of a Fall and American Jonathan Glazer for his chilling portrait of the Shoah in The Area of Interest. Both films are primarily not in English.
The influx of new members at the Oscars is leading to more divergence from the guilds, which are typically seen as precursors. For example, the Oscars chose Sandra Hüller over Margot Robbie in the best actress category, whereas the actors’ union (SAG) had chosen Robbie for Barbie.
The DGA Awards also recognized Oppenheimer and awarded the prize for best first film to Céline Song for her intimate and very personal film, Past Lives -Nos vies d’avant about the reunion of two childhood friends. The film is nominated for two Oscars.
The best documentary award went to 20 days in Mariupol, which documents the arrival of war in a Ukrainian city that became the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Russian invasion. The DGA Awards also recognized television works: The Last of Us won the award for best drama series episode, and The Bear, a dive into the back kitchen of a Chicago restaurant, won in the comedy category.