Roma helmsman Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director at the 2019 Directors Guild Awards, making him the favorite to take home the Oscar in the same category. Five years after wowing audiences with the visual spectacle of Gravity, Cuarón returned with a semi-autobiographical period piece that explored a year in the life of a middle-class family's maid. Receiving widespread praise from critics impressed with Cuarón's technical mastery and personal touch, Roma became one of 2019's most prominent players on the awards circuit. Its 10 Academy Award nominations were tied with The Favourite for the most by a single film.
In one of the most unpredictable awards races in recent memory, Roma has arguably emerged as the closest thing to a favorite. Cuarón previously won Best Director at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards (where Roma also received Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film), illustrating that awards voters have deep respect and admiration for his vision. Now, Cuarón's case for his second career Oscar gets even stronger with another huge win.
At last night's Directors Guild Awards (hat tip Variety), Cuarón won Best Director, beating out Bradley Cooper, Peter Farrelly, Spike Lee, and Adam McKay for the top prize. This is the second time Cuarón won Best Director at the DGA, following his victory for Gravity.
This development all but ensures Cuarón is winning Best Director at the Oscars later this month. Since 2003, the only time the DGA and Oscar winners did not line up was 2012, when the Academy infamously snubbed Ben Affleck for Argo. Some viewers were hoping Lee would be able to get some overdue awards love for BlacKkKlansman (widely considered his strongest film in years), but Cuarón had all of the momentum heading into DGA. Unless Oscar voters decide to throw a curveball and buck one of the industry's most reliable trends (which, in this year, is certainly possible), Best Director is Cuarón's to lose. It's a huge win for Netflix, announcing the streaming giant as a legitimate force in the awards conversation. Surely, this'll galvanize Netflix as they put together a campaign for Martin Scorsese's The Irishman later this year.
Cuarón winning at DGA also throws another fascinating wrinkle in the Best Picture race. Cinephiles look to the guild awards to provide some clarity on how things will play out, but the guilds have shared the wealth in 2019. Farrelly's Green Book won at the Producers Guild Awards, while Black Panther earned Best Cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The Writers Guild has yet to weigh in, but right now the Oscars' Best Picture is up in the air and can go in any direction. It's worth noting that no foreign language film has ever won the Academy's top prize, but Roma could easily make history given how much support it has.