Damien Chazelle has danced his way into the record books.
At the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday night, the La La Land director took home the trophy for Best Director, making him the youngest filmmaker ever to win the award.
Chazelle started his acceptance speech by thanking the other directors nominated in the category. “I was absolutely honored and floored to be in your company this year,” he said. “Thank you for what incredible filmmakers you are and for inspiring me with your work every day.”
He also thanked “the people who helped me make this movie,” including stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone for “bringing it to life.” To composer Justin Hurwitz, Chazelle said, “Thank you for riding with me on this and carrying this dream forward and for never giving up.”
“Finally,” he added, “I want to thank Olivia [Hamilton], my love, sitting there. This was a movie about love, and I was lucky enough to fall in love while making it. It means the world to me that you’re here sharing this with me.”
Having just turned 32 last month, Chazelle — who also recently became the youngest Golden Globes Best Director winner — broke the record previously held by 1931 recipient Norman Taurog, who was 32 years and 260 days old when he won for directing Skippy.
Sunday night’s victory comes after a meteoric rise for the wunderkind filmmaker. Chazelle burst on the scene in 2014 with the riveting Whiplash, which scored Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture nods. His musical follow-up La La Land, starring Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling and Oscar winner Emma Stone, engrossed audiences and critics alike, swept the Golden Globes, and earned a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations. Chazelle also scored the prized DGA Award, which often serves as a predictor of Oscar victory.
Chazelle faced stiff competition to win the Best Director Oscar, beating out Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge, Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, and Denis Villeneuve for Arrival.
“What’s so great about a musical is — when it works — the genre has the potential for emotion that’s unmatched by any other,” Chazelle said in November. “But when it doesn’t, there is nothing as embarrassing.”
Nothing embarrassing about an Oscar.