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Cuarón wins DGA trophy for Gravity, gains Oscar edge

Alfonso Cuarón poses with his award at the 66th Annual DGA Awards Dinner on Saturday night.

Alfonso Cuarón was awarded the top film honor from the Directors Guild of America for Gravity on Saturday night, giving the lost-in-space saga an edge on the journey to the Academy Awards.In the recent bustle of Hollywood honors, Gravity, David O. Russell’s con caper American Hustle and Steve McQueen’s historical epic 12 Years a Slave had been competing in the tightest three-way Oscar race in years.

But Cuarón’s film now has the upper hand for the best-picture and director Academy Awards, and with 10 Oscar nominations, is likely to gain the most statuettes on Hollywood’s biggest night March 2. American Hustle also has 10 nominations, but in tougher, more competitive races than Gravity’s mainly craft nods.

Meanwhile, the early dominant momentum of 12 Years a Slave has weakened following Saturday night’s Gravity win and the results of the Golden Globes on January 12 and last weekend’s Screen Actors Guild and Producers Guild awards, at which American Hustle and Gravity had the stronger showings.

In the 65-year history of the DGA awards, the winner has failed to also take home the best director Oscar just seven times. Ben Affleck, who presented Cuarón with his guild award, won the same accolade last year for Argo but was denied a best director nomination at the Oscars. However, like many DGA winners, Argo went on to win the best-picture prize at the Oscars.

Jehane Noujaim won the DGA’s documentary prize for The Square, which was acquired by subscription service Netflix last year and depicts the tumult of the Egyptian Revolution beginning in 2011. “I’m very humbled and very grateful,” said Noujaim, whose previous documentaries include Startup.com and Control Room. The film has still not passed the censors in Egypt but the director said, thanks largely to online downloads and rampant pirating 750,000 Egyptians have seen it already. This may be the first time a winner has so openly endorsed the pirating of their own movie.

Each director gave a nomination speech before the biggest award of the evening was announced and the key stars of films gave their directors glowing introductions. Among them was Bradley Cooper of American Hustle, Rob Reiner of The Wolf of Wall Street, Tom Hanks of Captain Phillips, Sara Paulson of 12 Years a Slave. Receiving the loudest applause were the evening’s diversity award recipients, Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, the creative team behind the TV medical series Grey’s Anatomy.

“We are being given an award for something all of us should be doing anyway,” said Rhimes. “There is such a lack of people hiring women and minorities that when someone does so on a regular basis, they are given an award. There shouldn’t need to be an award.”

Steven Soderbergh won the TV movie and miniseries prize for HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, which recounted the relationship of Liberace and his lover Scott Thorson. Soderbergh, who once served as a DGA first vice president, was also honoured with the Robert B. Aldrich Award for his service to the guild.

Breaking Bad mastermind Vince Gilligan was also honoured with his first DGA award for directing the series finale of the AMC drama.

Other winners included: Beth McCarthy-Miller for 30 Rock (comedy series), Neil P. DeGroot for 72 Hours (reality), Don Roy King for Saturday Night Live (variety series).

Other than the Writer’s Guild Awards on February 1, there are no major awards before the Oscars. Hollywood’s high season goes quiet for a few weeks as several thousand members of the motion picture academy have the last word with their balloting.

Herald with Reuters, AP

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