A look at Alfonso Cuarón’s IMDb page reveals almost as much about the state of his career as his Netflix film ”Roma” does about his childhood in that Mexico City neighborhood. His page enumerates two Academy Award wins (for directing and editing 2013’s “Gravity”), 170 nominations and another 183 wins.
Cuarón’s latest trophy was delivered Saturday night at the 71st Annual Directors Guild of America Awards in ceremonies at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland, hosted by Aisha Tyler.
Officially titled Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film, the Mexican director, screenwriter, editor, producer and cinematographer was feted by “Roma” stars Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira, both of whom have been nominated for acting Oscars.
“Roma’ simply doesn’t exist without the generosity of spirt and effortless grace of Yalitza and Marina,” he said. “They somehow, with the rest of my beautiful cast, managed to bring to life this film from my memory.” Cuaron also thanked Participant Media, which financed the black-and-white Spanish-language film and Netflix for what he called their “glorious stupidity.”
“Roma” centers on Aparicio’s character Cleo, an indigenous woman from Oaxaca, who is based on the Cuarón family’s live-in maid. He noted that many of the world’s 70 million domestic workers are immigrants. “When we vilify them, calling them criminals and rapists, we diminish ourselves. This isn’t about politics, this is about humanity,” he said, clearly rebuking some of President Trump’s comments about immigrants.
Cuarón competed for the DGA’s top film award, which he also won five years ago for “Gravity,” against Bradley Cooper for “A Star Is Born,” Spike Lee for “BlacKkKlansman,” Adam McKay for “Vice” and Peter Farrelly for “Green Book.”
The DGA win, on top of directing trophies he also received at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice, also makes him the frontrunner for the category at the upcoming Academy Awards, where he and fellow Mexican-born directors—and friends– Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu have taken the prize in four of the last five years.
While Cooper went home without a trophy – he was also nominated in the first-time director category which Bo Burnham won for “Eighth Grade,” McKay didn’t go home empty-handed at the DGAs. He received the directorial drama series award for HBO’s “Succession.”
Ben Stiller was awarded the movies for television and limited series prize for Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora.”
“This is a dream come true,” said Stiller, who is still mainly known for acting in blockbuster comedies but is clearly entering a new phase of his career. “I’ve wanted to be a director since I was 8 years old.”
Another actor/director, Bill Hader, received the comedy series award for directing the first episode of HBO’s “Barry,” in which he also stars.
During his acceptance speech, he reflected on his first time at the show almost two decades ago. “I first came to this ceremony is 2001 when I was a PA on ‘James Dean: An Invented Life’ so be nice to your PAs,” Hader said.
Former DGA president Paris Barclay presented FX Networks with the diversity award, an honor that’s only been handed out five times.
“In the most recent television season, 53% of their directors were women and people of color,” Barclay said. “So they looked around and they made the effort and they went from 12% to 53%. FX is a shining example of how one institution can change their culture.”
“Facts don’t lie,” said FX president John Landgraf. “We decided to see what would happen if we saw diversity as an obligation, and more importantly as an opportunity. Real change is possible. You just have to do it.”
Quincy Jones presented Don Mischer, known for helming live events including the legendary Motown 25 special, the 1996 and 2002 Olympics opening ceremonies and Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, with the guild’s lifetime achievement award in television direction. He’s now won 10 DGA awards.
“When I was 12, I built my own TV studio in my garage,” Mischer said. “It’s hard for me to put into words how it feels to be included with all of you.”
A complete list of winners can be found here.