Oppenheimer was named the best film of the year by Hollywood’s directors on Saturday, boosting expectations that Christopher Nolan’s long wait for success at the Oscars could soon be over.
The British director — who is renowned for making commercially successful, complex blockbusters, but has not always received love from awards voters — won the top prize at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards in Los Angeles.
“The idea that my peers would think I deserve this means everything to me,” said Nolan, of his film about the invention of the atomic bomb. Nolan had been nominated four times previously for the top accolade from the DGA, but had failed to win for Memento, The Dark Knight, Inception or Dunkirk. He will now be hoping he can break a similar losing streak next month at the Oscars, where he has lost all five of his previous nods. Nolan lavished praise on his filmmaking team for bringing his hugely ambitious visions — including a jaw-dropping replica of the first atomic bomb test — to life over the course of his career.
“People say ‘Christopher Nolan destroyed a real plane’ and ‘Christopher Nolan blew up a building,’ or whatever,” he said.
“Sorry, chaps! It’s all down to you and your teams. And you were never more on your game than making Oppenheimer.”
Eighteen of the past 20 DGA winners have gone on to also win the Oscar for best director that same year. This year’s Academy Awards take place on March 10.
The other directors nominated by the DGA for its top prize this year were Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon), Greta Gerwig (Barbie), Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things) and Alexander Payne (The Holdovers).
Nolan will go head-to-head with Scorsese and Lanthimos again at the Oscars, but notably not Gerwig, whose apparent snubbing by the Academy as director of blockbuster feminist satire Barbie caused outrage.
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