Directors Guild of America Awards 2017: Damien Chazelle (‘La La Land’) wins on way to making Oscar history
Oscar frontrunner Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”) became the youngest winner in the history of the Directors Guild of America Awards on Saturday (Feb. 4); the writer/director turned 32 on Jan. 19. The record had been held by Francis Ford Coppola, who was 35 days shy of turning 34 when he won in 1973 for helming “The Godfather.”
However, Coppola had the misfortune of being one of the seven DGA champs that did not repeat at the Oscars since the guild aligned itself with the academy calendar in 1950. While he lost the Oscar to “Cabaret” director Bob Fosse, Coppola did come back to win both the DGA and the Oscar two years later for “The Godfather: Part II.”
Should Chazelle prevail at the Oscars as predicted, he’ll also be the youngest winner there at age 32 years and 38 days; Norman Taurog was 32 years and 267 days when he won this award in 1931 for “Skippy.”
For the second time the DGA presented an award for Best First-Time Director, which went to Garth Davis for “Lion.” While Davis had also contended here in the top category, he was bumped by the directors branch of the academy in favor of past Oscar champ Mel Gibson (“Braveheart”) for “Hacksaw Ridge.”
The prize for Best Documentary Director went as expected to Ezra Edelman for the Oscar frontrunner “O.J.: Made in America.” This doc also won last week at the producers guild.
On the TV side, “Veep” won Best Comedy Directing for the “Inauguration” episode directed by Becky Martin. Fellow HBO series “Game of Thrones” took Best Drama Directing, repeating its Emmy win last fall in the same category for the episode “Battle of the Bastards” by Miguel Sapochnik.
HBO’s “The Night Of” won Best TV Movie/Miniseries, but both variety awards went to broadcast TV: Variety Series Directing was awarded to NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” while the 70th Tony Awards took Variety Special Directing for CBS.
Finishing out the races, the award for Children’s Programming went to “An American Girl Story,” “American Grit” earned the prize for Best Reality Program, and Derek Cianfrance won Best Commercial.