Guillermo del Toro wins top Directors Guild Award for Shape of Water

"The Shape of Water", about a mute woman who falls in love with an underwater creature, has emerged as the awards season frontrunner with a Producers Guild Award and a leading 13 Academy Award nominations.

The "Get Out" director earned the outstanding first-time feature film award, besting Geremy Jasper ("Patti Cake$"), William Oldroyd ("Lady Macbeth"), Taylor Sheridan ("Wind River"), and Aaron Sorkin ("Molly's Game").

The other DGA nominees for Feature Film were Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk) and Peele (Get Out). "This has been the best year of my life hand's down", Peele said. This is not a good year for many of us. He stressed a drive toward respectful and inclusive workplaces and said that "we must keep our foot firmly on the pedal and not let up" in their "decades long fight" to ensure the participation of women and people of color in the director's chair. Matthew Heineman took his second DGA Award home for his documentary, City of Ghosts.

While the film has received multiple honors from various critic and film journalist groups over the past few months, the industry attention The Shape of Water has been receiving is starting to give a good indication of how the film will fare at the Oscars on March 4.

"For everyone in this room, what we do is important, what we do is powerful", Peele continued.

In one of the night's more memorable moments, Glenn Weiss earned an award for directing last year's Oscars ceremony and recounted the behind-the-scenes, split-second deliberations over how to handle the now-infamous best-picture snafu that played out live in front of a stunned audience of millions.

Del Toro, like Gerwig, Peele and McDonagh, was a first time DGA nominee Saturday.

Reed Morano and Jean-Marc Vallée followed up their Emmy victories with drama series and mini-series wins for Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" and HBO's "Big Little Lies", respectively.

It's worthy of note that only once in the last five years has an American director, Damien Chazelle, landed the Best Director award in 2016.

In an opening monologue that sharply skewered those sexual misconduct scandals that have roiled Hollywood in recent months, host Judd Apatow highlighted the intractable gender disparities behind the camera.

  • Kyle Peterson