A visibly emotional Alejandro G. Inarritu accepted the award for outstanding directorial achievement in feature film for his work on The Revenant at the 68th annual Directors Guild Awards.

Traditionally, the winner of the previous year’s DGA Award does the honors of announcing the new year’s winner, but since Inarritu himself won the award last year for Birdman, Tom Hooper, who won the award in 2011 for The King’s Speech, was drafted to open the envelope since this year Inarritu was nominated once again — along with Spotlight‘s Tom McCarthy, The Big Short‘s Adam McKay, Mad Max: Fury Road‘s George Miller and The Martian‘s Ridley Scott.

Choking back tears, Inarritu noted, “Tough men don’t cry. That’s what Ridley Scott said today, and he’s right.” But Inarritu appeared overcome as he acknowledged his father, who died two years ago, saying, “I think he’s getting some business up there to make this happen and I miss him a lot.” The Mexican-born director went on to say, “This hug, this embrace you’re giving to me today is going to a whole country, a whole Latin American community in this country. The people who live here contribute a lot to this country.”

The DGA Award is considered one of the key harbingers of Oscar victory, since there have been only seven occasions in the history of the award when the DGA winner has not gone on to win the Oscar for best director. The suspense was particularly high this year since no one picture has emerged as the obvious Oscar front-runner. While the Golden Globe for best drama went to The Revenant (and the best comedy Globe was awarded to The Martian), each of the guilds have chosen a different film. The Producers Guild of America gave its top prize to The Big Short and the Screen Actors Guild Award for best ensemble went to Spotlight. But the DGA Award now gives a boost to The Revenant, the tale of a 19th century fur trading fighting for his life, from Paramount, New Regency and Plan B.

The DGA also introduced a new award this year, a prize for a first-time feature film director, and Steven Spielberg was on hand to present the inaugural award to writer-turned-director Alex Garland for Ex Machina, his sci-fi tale of an android on the verge of consciousness. In his acceptance, Garland cited Steven Soderbergh as his inspiration, calling him “a lighthouse whose shown the way.”