‘La La Land’ dances toward Oscars with Directors Guild win

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — La La Land director Damien Chazelle waltzed off Saturday night with the top honor at the Directors Guild of America Awards.

It’s the latest stop on the ebullient musical’s journey to the Oscars, but it wasn’t all song and dance at the annual awards ceremony. The evening also took on a more somber, urgent note as many directors and presenters also grappled with President Trump’s refugee and immigration ban.

“I wanted to celebrate the act of dreaming and what art means. Art does connect people and transcend borders,” Chazelle said. “I want to be part of that transnational dialogue of movies.”

First-time nominee Chazelle, 32, is the youngest-ever recipient of the DGA feature film award, which all but guarantees an Oscar win on Feb. 26.

Rarely has the DGA winner not gone on to win the directing prize at the Academy Awards. La La Land recently won the top honor at the Producers Guild Awards and is nominated for a record-tying 14 Oscars.

Earlier in the evening, La La Land stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling presented Chazelle with the directing medallion. While singing his accolades, like the fact that he shot the musical in 40 days using 35mm film, 93 locations and 1,600 extras, Gosling also joked that Chazelle “directed his own birth in a single take.”

Chazelle was up against Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, Garth Davis for Lion and Denis Villeneuve for Arrival. All but Davis are also nominated for the Oscar.

Davis did win the first-time director award for Lion. Starring Dev Patel and newcomer Sunny Pawar, Lion tells the true story of an Indian man who was lost at age 5 and 25 years later used Google Earth to retrace his…