Christopher Nolan Takes Top DGA Award For ‘Oppenheimer’ Paving Way To Oscar

Oppenheimer‘s steamroll of awards season continued with filmmaker Christopher Nolan walking off with the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film.

The fifth time was the charm for Nolan having been previously nominated for Memento in 2002, The Dark Knight in 2009, Inception in 2011, and Dunkirk in 2018. His first win here at the DGAs significantly indicates that the British filmmaker will Best Director at the Oscars; the DGA Awards one of the best barometers for determining who wins Best Director at the Academy Awards. There’s only been eight times in DGA Awards history in which they’ve disagreed with the Oscars’ ultimate Best Director winner (1968, 1972, 1985, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2012 and 2019).

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Presenting the award to Nolan tonight were last year’s DGA Award Feature Film winners, Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan. Nolan, having spoken previously during his nomination presentation (read on), kept it short on stage, acknowledging DGA’s force in fighting for filmmakers’ rights. In addition, Nolan thanked his peers for the win.

Nolan’s fellow rivals tonight for Best Director included Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon), Greta Gerwig (Barbie), Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things) and Alexander Payne (The Holdovers).

Nolan has already won Best Director at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice. He’s also nominated at the BAFTAs for Best Film, Adapted Screenplay and Director.

Cillian Murphy, who played the title character, presented Nolan with his nominee medal earlier in the evening, telling the Beverly Hilton ballroom that the journey with the filmmaker “begins with a call”. That means the screenplay is ready to be read; however, while it’s only the beginning for an actor, it’s the halfway point for Nolan. “With Chris, you’re always running to catch up,” said Murphy who was relieved that the part Nolan didn’t want him to play “involved putting a bag over my head” (a reference to Murphy’s role of the villain scarecrow in the director’s Dark Knight movies). Nolan flew to Ireland to hand Murphy the script for Oppenheimer.

“I can’t believe its 20 years since we started on this journey together,” Nolan told Murphy as he accepted the medallion for his Feature Film nomination, “which means it’s about 15 years since I woke up a little hungover and said to [my wife] Emma, ‘Did I go up to Cillian last night and say, You’re the best actor ever?’” As Murphy and the audience laughed, Nolan continued, “The DGA awards are such a special event, I think not least because uniquely this event acknowledges and understands that nobody gets up here on their own.”

Addressing his crew in the back of the ballroom, Nolan said, “On Oppenheimer, you were never more on your game than making Oppenheimer and I never felt so well-supported with a challenging set of tasks, and similarly incredibly well-supported with an incredible cast and a wonderful crew.”

“Last but not least, I’d like to thank my wife Emma Thomas, the lead producer of all these films and the lead parent to our four kids.”

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