Mexican filmmaker Alejandro G. Inarritu won the top Directors Guild Award on Saturday for “Birdman,” his satirical take on show business, raising his and his film’s chances for Oscars in two weeks.
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The Directors Guild of America’s award for feature film director has correctly predicted the best director Academy Award for 10 of the past 11 years.
Inarritu thanked the room of Hollywood directors for backing the risky film, which stars Michael Keaton as a washed up, former superhero actor trying to make an improbable comeback with his own Broadway play.
“If this is considered a great film, it has nothing to do with me, it is a miracle,” Inarritu said alongside last year’s DGA winner, fellow Mexican Alfonso Cuaron.
“I actually say that humbled,” he added, “because I never expected to be here tonight talking to you, never in my life.”
Inarritu, 51, prevailed over four other nominees: two-time DGA best feature director winner Clint Eastwood for Iraq war drama “American Sniper,” Richard Linklater for coming-of-age tale “Boyhood,” Morten Tyldum for British World War Two story “The Imitation Game” and Wes Anderson for colorful caper “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
The Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 22 and voting concludes on Feb. 17.
“Birdman” co-leads in Oscar nominations with nine nods, including the film industry’s top honor, best picture, along with best director, best actor, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.
The Fox Searchlight film stumbled early on in the awards season by losing the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical to “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” while “Boyhood” was an early favorite after winning best drama Golden Globe.
But “Birdman” emerged as the film to beat at the Oscars after winning last month the top Producers Guild Award, which closely mirrors the Oscar for best picture, while the cast took the biggest Screen Actors Guild honor.
Many of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 6,100 members are in the various professional guilds, making their awards bellwethers for Hollywood’s biggest night.
Since 1948, there have been only seven occasions when the DGA award winner has not gone on to win the corresponding Academy Award.
In other top DGA awards, Laura Poitras won best documentary director for “Citizenfour,” which chronicles the historic leaking of documents by former U.S. government security contractor Edward Snowden.
Lesli Linka Glatter was honored as best director of a dramatic television series for the Showtime thriller “Homeland.”