DGA Awards: 'Birdman's' Alejandro Inarritu Takes Top Film Honors

'Birdman' director Alejandro G. Inarritu
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'Homeland' and 'Transparent' hailed as outstanding drama and comedy series.

Birdman's Alejandro G. Inarritu took top film honors at the 67th annual Directors Guild of America Awards, which were held tonight at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. His pal Alfonso Cuaron, last year's winner for Gravity, presented the award to Inarritu, who had flown into Los Angeles to attend the event from Canada, where he is currently filming The Revenant.

In his acceptance speech, Inarritu commented that making a movie is not as hard as it once was because of new technologies, but "to make a good film we all know is war, and we have just to survive it. If this is considered a great film, it doesn't have anything to do with me. It's a miracle."

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Coming in the wake of previous wins from the Producers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, Birdman continues to build momentum heading into the Academy Awards. The DGA Award is considered a particularly telling signal because the recipient has gone on to win the Oscar for best director in all but seven years since the DGA Award was created. Birdman triumphed at the DGA over American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game.

At the beginning of the evening, Jane Lynch, who served as emcee, joked that since DGA president Paris Barclay is a gay, black man and she's a 6-foot-tall woman, "between the two of us, you've got 85 percent of your diversity tonight."

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In fact, the winners proved to be unusually diverse. In addition to the Mexico City-born Inarritu, women directors took four key awards.

Laura Poitras claimed the award for outstanding directorial achievement in documentary for Citizenfour, her portrait of Edward Snowden and dissection of the surveillance state. The award for television movie/miniseries went to Lisa Cholodenko for HBO's Olive Kitteridge, the two-part HBO drama about an ornery Maine housewife.

Transparent's Jill Soloway took home comedy series honors for her Amazon show, while Lesli Linka Glatter was honored in the drama series category for Showtime's Homeland, one of two episodes of Homeland that were nominated in that category.

Soloway expressed pleasure in being welcomed into the ranks of directors, saying, "I just got into the DGA. I got my card three weeks ago," while Poitras commented, "This is an incredible honor to receive from my colleagues and fellow filmmakers. This is an incredible time to be a documentary filmmaker. People are doing work that is incredibly groundbreaking and risk-taking."

During the course of the evening, each of the five nominated feature directors were presented with medallions, recognizing their nominations, by their colleagues. Michael Mann appeared to introduce Inarritu; Bill Murray, acknowledging that he's a member of Wes Anderson's acting company, spoke affectionately of the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel; Julie Delpy, who's collaborated with Richard Linklater on the Before Sunrise series, introduced the Boyhood director. And, appearing on video from London, where they will be attending Sunday's BAFTA ceremony, Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly, sang the praises of their Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum.

And while American Sniper may not have won, its director, Clint Eastwood, was clearly the most popular man in the room judging by the applause that greeted every mention of his name. Sniper star Bradley Cooper, who shut down his Broadway show The Elephant Man for the night to make a quick trip to L.A., related how, when shooting that movie's rodeo sequence, Eastwood himself got down on the ground in the dirt and directed the actor to jump over him to capture one particular shot. Cooper offered an Eastwood impersonation that got big laughs as he described how, once he got the take he wanted, Eastwood got up, dusted himself off, and said, "All right, that's enough of that shit." Eastwood, observing that he's been a member of the DGA for 46 years, vowed, "I've had a wonderful life in this business — and I am not over with it yet."

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Barbra Streisand made an appearance to hand out the awards for variety/talk/news/sports. The award for regularly scheduled programming went to Dave Diomedi for the first episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, while the award for specials went to Glenn Weiss for directing the 68th annual Tony Awards. It was the sixth DGA Award Weiss has won for directing the Tonys, but he seemed most excited to be accepting the award from Streisand, saying, "Am I not going to be the most popular guy on Broadway."

Steven Spielberg also made a surprise appearance just before the final award of the night to announce that next year the DGA will institute a new award recognizing emerging talent that will be given to a director for a first film. "Our guild was founded on the premise of providing support for filmmakers in what can often be a complicated business," he said. "This new honor is the culmination of something our organization does very well — honor creativity and foster support."

In addition to its awards for outstanding achievement in film and television direction the DGA presented its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Awards in Television Direction to James Burrows and Robert Butler.

Glen and Les Charles, whose shows include Taxi and Cheers, paid tribute to Burrows as "the foremost comedy director in TV." In accepting, Burrows first said, "This does not mean I'm retired," adding he was accepting on behalf of all his fellow sitcom directors in the guild "so we can make the term 'traffic cop' obsolete."

Pierce Brosnan, whose big break came when he was selected to star in TV's Remington Steel, one of the many shows Butler directed during a long career, which encompassed all genres but is especially notable for shows like Hill Street Blues, credited Butler giving him a career. But the veteran director took it all in stride, saying of the film clips that preceded his acceptance, "How about that commercial," before concluding, "I somehow landed in the most rewarding rat race of them all."

It also presented special service awards to its members Phillip Goldfarb, who received the Frank Capra Achievement Award, and Julie Gelfand, who received the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award.

The complete winners list follows:

Feature Film

ALEJANDRO G. IÑÁRRITU

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Mr. Iñárritu's Directorial Team:

  • Unit Production Managers: James W. Skotchdopole, Robert Graf
  • First Assistant Director: Peter Kohn
  • Second Assistant Director: Amy Lauritsen
  • Second Second Assistant Director: Catherine Feeny
  • Location Manager: Joaquin Prange

Documentary

LAURA POITRAS

Citizenfour

RADiUS

Praxis Films

Participant Media

HBO Documentary Films

Bertha Foundation | BRITDOC Circle | Channel 4

Norddeutscher Rundfunk NDR

Bayerischer Rundfunk BR

Deutscher Filmförderfonds

[readmore:761407]

Dramatic Series

LESLI LINKA GLATTER

Homeland, "From A to B and Back Again"

(Showtime)

Ms. Glatter's Directorial Team:

  • Unit Production Managers: Angela Phillips, Michael Klick
  • First Assistant Director: Nick Heckstall Smith
  • Second Assistant Director: Wendy Bledsoe


Comedy Series

 

JILL SOLOWAY

Transparent, "Best New Girl" (Winner)

(Amazon Prime)

Ms. Soloway's Directorial Team:

 

  • Unit Production Manager: Victor Hsu
  • First Assistant Director: Bill Purple
  • Second Assistant Director: Allan Monteiro Fortes
  • Second Second Assistant Director: Anna Vogt

 

Movies for Television and Miniseries

LISA CHOLODENKO

Olive Kitteridge

(HBO)

Ms. Cholodenko's Directorial Team:

  • Unit Production Manager: David Coatsworth
  • First Assistant Director: Jesse Nye
  • Second Assistant Director: Mark Constance
  • Second Second Assistant Director: Elizabeth MacSwan

 

Variety/Talk/News/Sports — Specials

GLENN WEISS

The 68th Annual Tony Awards

(CBS)

Mr. Weiss's Directorial Team:

  • Associate Directors: Ken Diego, Robin Abrams, Stefani Cohen, Ricky Kirshner
  • Stage Managers: Garry Hood, Phyllis Digilio-Kent, Peter Epstein, Andrew Feigin, Lynn Finkel, Doug Fogel, Jeffry Gitter, Arthur Lewis, Jeffrey M. Markowitz, Joey Meade, Seth Mellman, Cyndi Owgang, Jeff Pearl, Annette Powlis, Elise Reaves, Lauren Class Schneider

 

Variety/Talk/News/Sports — Regularly Scheduled Programming

DAVE DIOMEDI

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, "Episode #1"

(NBC)

Mr. Diomedi's Directorial Team:

  • Associate Director: Maureen Smith
  • Stage Managers: Nicka Tolmasoff, Mike Kilkenny

 

Reality Programs

ANTHONY B. SACCO (WINNER)

The Chair, "The Test"

(Starz)

 

Children's Programs

JONATHAN JUDGE

100 Things To Do Before High School, "Pilot" (WINNER)

(Nickelodeon)

Mr. Judge's Directorial Team:

  • Unit Production Manager: Debra Spidell
  • First Assistant Director: Julian Petrillo
  • Second Assistant Director: Katey Wheelhouse
  • Second Second Assistant Director: Ceci Mak

 

Commercials

NICOLAI FUGLSIG

(MJZ)

Sapeurs, Guinness AMV BBDO

  • First Assistant Director: Bob Wilkins

Waiting, FEMADeutsch NY

  • First Assistant Director: Bob Wagner
  • Second Assistant Director: Rafa Sanz
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