La La Land's Damien Chazelle has scooped the top prize at Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards.
The 32-year-old filmmaker, who directed the Hollywood musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, won the award for best feature film at the star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday (04Feb17).
Twelve of the last 13 winners of the award have gone on to win the Oscar for best director, as the DGA Awards are seen as an accurate predictor for Academy Awards success.
"I'm a movie maker because I love movies. I was three years old watching Cinderella on loop," Chazelle said as he accepted the honour. "I felt that movies were powerful because they speak to everyone: all countries all cultures."
He later said backstage, "I would hope that the movie gives some kind of hope. If there's one message I want to get across, it's that just chasing those dream - no matter how unrealistic, in fact sometimes because they seem unrealistic - is the most important thing. They may not come true but chasing those dreams sometimes creates a ripple effect. I really do believe that."
Chazelle's La La Land leading man Ryan Gosling attended the DGA Awards with his co-star Emma Stone, and lavished his director with praise. "(He has) great vision, unbridled creativity and is a real collaborator. He directed his birth in a single take," Gosling joked.
Alejandro Inarritu, who scooped the best director Oscar two years in a row for Birdman in 2015 and The Revenant in 2016, criticised U.S. President Donald Trump before he presented the DGA Award to Chazelle.
"We all know the story being written now is really, really bad," he said on stage. "Actually it's a bad remake of one of the worst stories of the last century. The only way we win is by telling good, complex and truthful human stories. No alternative facts or false statistics will defeat that."
Ridley Scott was awarded with the DGA's lifetime achievement award, presented to him by actor Michael Fassbender. The 79-year-old British director received a standing ovation, and treated the audience to a 20-minute acceptance speech.
"My fellow directors, I salute you. Do try to raise the bar and most importantly, try not to punch anyone because I've come close quite a few times," he joked.
© WENN Newsdesk 2017