Damien Chazelle, the director from Princeton who moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago and dreamed up a modern-day musical film about Hollywood hopefuls, has made history as the youngest person to win the Academy Award for best director.
Chazelle, who had been considered a favorite to win the award, receives the honor for "La La Land," a film that received a total of 14 Oscar nominations, including best picture and another nod for Chazelle for best original screenplay, matching the nominations record set by "All About Eve" in 1951.
The director thanked his parents, Bernard and Celia Chazelle, professors at Princeton University and The College of New Jersey, respectively, and his sister Anna, an actress, as well as his girlfriend, Princeton alumna Olivia Hamilton.
"This was a movie about love, and I was lucky enough to fall in love while making it," Chazelle said, also thanking his college roommate at Harvard University, Justin Hurwitz, who won Oscars for scoring "La La Land" and working on "City of Stars," which won the award for best original song.
With his win, Chazelle, who also won the Directors Guild of America award this month for best director of a feature film, broke an Oscar record that had stood for 86 years. Norman Taurog, who formerly held the record -- 32 years and 260 days -- for his 1931 film "Skippy," was born in 1899. Chazelle turned 32 on January 19, besting Taurog by more than half a year.
"It hasn't even felt like work, it's felt like that passion, that dream," Chazelle told NJ Advance Media several days before his win, speaking about this drive to succeed in Hollywood. "In my mind, I was just going to keep at it until I made headway and I didn't know when that would be."
Another frontrunner for this year's best director Oscar was Barry Jenkins, for "Moonlight." If he had won, he would have been the first black director to receive the honor.
"La La Land" actors Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling -- whose characters, actress Mia and jazz pianist Sebastian, embark upon a romance as they try to find footing in their careers -- were also nominated in the actor categories.
Chazelle made Golden Globes history in January, becoming the youngest filmmaker to win best director. "La La Land" also won the most Golden Globes of any film in the history of the awards -- seven -- including best motion picture musical and best original screenplay.
In 2015, Chazelle received his first Oscar nominations -- adapted screenplay and best picture -- for "Whiplash," a tense drama inspired by his experience as a drummer with the jazz band at Princeton High School.La La Land (2016 Movie) Official Trailer - 'Dreamers' Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.
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