Directors Guild gives top award to Mexican director Inarritu

Sandy Cohen - Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu won the top prize Saturday from the Directors Guild of America for his work on "The Revenant."

Inarritu won the same award last year for "Birdman," which went on to win him the best director Oscar and the best picture prize.

"The Revenant" is up for best picture this year among its 12 Academy Awards bids, and Inarritu is again nominated for best director. The annual Directors Guild of America Awards often herald eventual Oscar winners.

Inarritu was teary-eyed as he accepted the Directors Guild prize, which he characterized as "a hug from my peers."

"This hug, this embrace you are giving me today goes to a small country, to a whole Latin American community in this country," he said. "Your embrace makes me feel proud."

He competed against Tom McCarthy ("Spotlight"), Adam McKay ("The Big Short"), George Miller ("Mad Max: Fury Road") and Ridley Scott ("The Martian"). All but Scott are up for Academy Awards for directing. "Room" director Lenny Abrahamson replaced Scott in the Oscar race.

Saturday's ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel also offered a telling look at who's working behind the camera in Hollywood amid the industry's ongoing discussion about diversity.

While more women were nominated this year than ever before — 14 of the 47 nominees — only one took home an award. Dee Rees accepted the DGA prize in the television movie or miniseries category for HBO's "Bessie," beating out Angela Bassett ("Whitney"), Laurie Collyer ("The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"), Kenny Leon and Matthew Diamond ("The Wiz Live!") and Paul Haggis ("Show Me a Hero").

Jane Lynch hosted the four-hour dinner program, where such stars as Lily Tomlin, Bryan Cranston, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Regina King, James Corden, Nate Parker and Kathy Griffin served as presenters.

Eleven awards were presented to recognize outstanding directing in various formats, from commercials and live TV shows to drama series and feature films. Nine were claimed by white men.

Filmmaker Marielle Heller, who was nominated for achievement by a first-time feature filmmaker for "The Diary of a Teenage Girl," noted that she was the only woman among the guild's feature-film nominees.

"That feels like a lot of responsibility," she said. "I'm hoping that next year we'll be at least half of that list, and then by the next year, there shouldn't be any men on that list, right?"

Heller lost to "Ex-Machina" director Alex Garland.

Other winners Saturday included Kenny Ortega for Disney's "Descendants," Don Roy King for the "Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special," David Nutter for "Game of Thrones" and Matthew Heineman for his documentary "Cartel Land."

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