Just two weeks out from the 92nd Annual Academy Awards, the Directors’ Guild of America made its annual selections for the best of TV and film in 2019.
In a possible foreshadowing of an Oscar win, Sam Mendes took the night’s top prize; the DGA award for best direction of a feature film for 1917. The film, set in World War I, is shot to look like the entire movie was captured in one take and includes a remarkable sequence of the lead character running through a field as mortars explode behind him. For that effort, cinematographer Roger Deakins this weekend was awarded the ASC cinematographer’s award, setting Deakins up for his second Oscar win after 15 total nominations.
Also nominated in this category are Bong Joon Ho for Parasite, Martin Scorsese for The Irishman, Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and Taika Waititi for JoJo Rabbit.
Alma Har’el won the DGA’s award for best first-time director for Amazon Studios’ Honey Boy, competing against Mati Diop for Netflix’s Atlantics, Melina Matsoukas for Universal’s Queen & Slim, Tyler Nilson and Michael Shwartz for The Peanut Butter Falcon and Joe Talbot for A24’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
HBO swept the major TV categories, with HBO shows winning for drama, comedy and limited series or made-for-TV movie. HBO also won for best directed children’s program.
Nicole Kassell and her team took the award for best direction of a dramatic series for the pilot of HBO’s Watchmen, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice.” Kassell’s team was composed of unit production managers Karen Wacker, Ron Schmidt and Joseph E. Iberti, first assistant director Keri Bruno, second assistant directors Lisa Zugschwerdt and Ben White and second second assistant director Jessie Sasser White.
All of the nominated dramas aired on HBO, including the sixth episode of Watchmen, “This Extraordinary Being,” two episodes of Game of Thrones—David Nutter for “The Last of the Starks” and Miguel Sapochnik for “The Long Night,” and Mark Mylod for the episode of Succession titled “This Is Not for Tears.” Succession won the Golden Globe for outstanding drama series on Jan. 5.
Similarly, Barry, which was directed by creator and star Bill Hader, beat another HBO comedy, Veep, and three episodes of Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Hader’s team on the winning episode, “ronny/lily”—which was a surreal watch that featured a vengeful ninja child—included unit production manager Aida Rodgers, first assistant director Gavin Kleintop, second assistant director Kevin Zelman, second second assistant director Heather Kehayas, and additional second assistant director Mikaela Mathern.
Emmy- and Golden Globe-winner Chernobyl, directed by Johan Renck, also won for best directing of a limited series or made-for-TV movie. Chernobyl beat three nominated episodes of FX’s Fosse/Verdon as well as Netflix’s When They See Us.
Legendary TV director James Burrows and Andy Fisher won the trophy for best directed variety/talk/news/sports specials with ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons.’ This marks Burrows’—who was nominated for an Emmy every year between 1980 and 2005, except in 1997—fifth DGA award.
Assisting Burrows and Fisher were associate directors Martin Pasetta Jr. and Sara Niimi, and state managers John Esposito, Valdez Flagg, Alissa Levisohn Hoyo, Harvey Levine, Doug Tobin, Richard Silva and Jenny Nolan Bailey.
Also nominated in this category were Netflix’s Aziz Ansari: Right Now, which was directed by Spike Jonze; Netflix’s Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones, directed by Stan Lathan; Netflix’s Wanda Sykes: Not Normal, directed by Linda Mendoza and ABC’s hostless 91st Annual Academy Awards, directed by Glenn Weiss.
Saturday Night Live’s Don Roy King won his sixth DGA award in the regularly scheduled variety/talk/news/sports category for the late-night comedy sketch show’s December episode featuring guest host Eddie Murphy and musical guest Lizzo. King was assisted by Michael Mancini and Mike Poole and state managers Gena Rositano and Chris Kelly.
Other nominees in this category were Real Time with Bill Maher’s Paul G. Casey; CBS Sunday Morning’s Nora S. Gerard; The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s Jim Hoskinson; and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s Paul Pennolino and Christopher Werner.
Disney+, having just launched in November, won its first DGA award for reality program Encore, created by and executive produced by Kristen Bell and directed by Jason Cohen and associate directed by Daniel Shultz.
Other nominees in this category are Hisham Abed for Netflix’s Queer Eye; Jon Favreau for Netflix’s The Chef Show; Ashley S. Gorman for Fox’s First Responders Live; and Patrick McManus for NBC’s American Ninja Warrior.
HBO took a fourth DGA award for Amy Schatz’ direction of HBO Documentary Films’ Song of Parkland, which competed among children’s programs.
Other nominees in that category were Dean Israelite for Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?; Jack Jameson for HBO’s Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Special; Luke Matheny for Apple TV+’s Ghostwriter; and Barry Sonnenfeld for Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
The DGA Awards were handed out Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.