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Alfonso Cuarón: First Mexican DGA Award Winner in Feature Film Category

Alfonso Cuaron DGA Award Ben AffleckAlfonso Cuarón wins 2014 DGA Award for 'Gravity' (image: Directors Guild of America Award winner Alfonso Cuarón and last year's DGA Award winner Ben Affleck)

As expected, Alfonso Cuarón won the 2014 Directors Guild of America Award for the blockbuster Gravity at a January 25, 2014, ceremony held at Los Angeles' Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. “We saw all these photographs of earth from space, and it's absolutely beautiful; hues of greens and blues,” Cuarón told the crowd after receiving his award from last year's DGA winner, Ben Affleck. “Everything seems so organic [from space]. Those silly lines and boundaries we put on political maps, you can't see that from space. It's a bizarre experiment of nature, that is the human experience. And it's what we as directors try to sort out as filmmakers.”

A mix of space thriller and inspirational soap opera that has just about nothing to do with “silly lines and boundaries” found on “political maps,” Gravity stars Sandra Bullock (instead of Marion Cotillard, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, and Angelina Jolie) and George Clooney (instead of Robert Downey Jr.) as two American astronauts stranded in space after their shuttle is destroyed by debris from the remains of a Russian satellite – which goes to show that silly (and dangerous) national boundaries exist up there as well. Gravity was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director – though, tellingly, it missed out on a nomination for Best Original Screenplay (written by Cuarón and his son, Jonás Cuarón).

About two weeks ago, Cuarón, whose previous feature film was the 2006 release Children of Men, took home the Golden Globe for Best Director. Even before his DGA win, he was expected to win the Academy Award in that category; at this stage, his Oscar victory has been all but confirmed. In the last two decades, only four DGA Award winners have failed to take home a matching Academy Award: two of those had not been nominated for the Oscars (Ron Howard for Apollo 13, Ben Affleck for Argo); two were shortlisted, but lost the Oscar to somebody else (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon's Ang Lee lost to The Gladiator's Ridley Scott, Chicago's Rob Marshall lost to The Pianist's Roman Polanski). (See also: The DGA Awards vs. the Academy Awards.)

Alfonso Cuarón: First Mexican DGA Award winner in Feature Film category

Alfonso Cuarón is the first Mexican national to win the DGA Award for a feature film. The overwhelming majority of winners have been American (whether born or raised) and British filmmakers, but there have been a handful of other nationalities included in the roster, among them Taiwanese (Ang Lee, for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain), Austrian (Fred Zinnemann, for From Here to Eternity and A Man for All Seasons), Czech (Milos Forman, for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus), Italian (Bernardo Bertolucci, for The Last Emperor), and French (Michel Hazanavicius, for The Artist).

Alfonso Cuarón's 2014 DGA Award competitors were Paul Greengrass for the Tom Hanks star vehicle Captain Phillips; Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, in which Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a free black man forced into slavery; David O. Russell for the ensemble crime comedy-drama American Hustle, starring Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner; and Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street, a mix of satire and drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. Cuarón, McQueen, Russell, Scorsese, and Alexander Payne for Nebraska are this year's Best Director Academy Award nominees.

Also worth noting, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle shared the Producers Guild Award. The latter film also took home the Screen Actors Guild Best Cast Award. 12 Years a Slave won the Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama, while American Hustle came out on top in the Best Picture - Comedy or Musical category.

Other 2014 DGA Award winners

Among the 2014 DGA Awards' television winners were Steven Soderbergh for Behind the Candelabra, a TV movie starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, and the series Breaking Bad and 30 Rock. Additionally, Jehane Noujaim won the DGA Award in the documentary category for The Square, about the Egyptian Revolution which had its (official) roots at downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square exactly three years ago this weekend. The Square is one of the five documentary features in the running for the 2014 Academy Awards.

Jane Lynch hosted the 2014 DGA Awards ceremony before an audience of more than 1,600 guests. Besides Ben Affleck, DGA Awards presenters included Debbie Allen, Michael Apted, Paris Barclay, Sandra Bullock, Nick Cannon, Don Cheadle, Steve Coogan, Bradley Cooper, Jon Favreau, Taylor Hackford, Tom Hanks, Keith Jackson, Anna Kendrick, Allison Liddi-Brown, Sarah Paulson, Rob Reiner, and Kerry Washington.

The Directors Guild of America has approximately 15,000 members; they're all eligible to vote for the DGA Awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has 6,028 members; 377 of these belong to the Directors Branch.

DGA Award winner Alfonso Cuarón quote via Deadline.com. Photo of DGA Award winner Alfonso Cuarón and Ben Affleck: Directors Guild of America.

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