As the 2019 Oscars marched onward Sunday night (February 24), a few things became very clear: First, the anticipation to hear Bradley Cooper recapture his gravelly Jackson Maine singing voice — which he finally did — was reaching a fever pitch, and second, director Alfonso Cuarón's Roma was absolutely getting it done, winning Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Language film early in the night.
Roma, the director's nostalgic, empathetic love letter to the neighborhood where he grew up in Mexico City and the people who made it special, racked up a grand total of 10 nominations, and by the time the night was closing out, it seemed likely it could take even more. And it did: Cuarón nabbed Best Director in a powerful moment, presented to him by his pal Guillermo del Toro (who was quickly the recipient of a good bro hug).
"Being here doesn't get old," he said from his spot in front of the microphone, as del Toro stood to his left, also shouting out another friend and fellow Best Director winner Alejandro González Iñárritu.
As much as Roma is about the place, it's importantly built around the character of Cleo, an indigenous maid who experiences love, heartbreak, echoes of war and trauma, and extreme joy all on her own journey with the family she lives with and works for. Cuarón drew special attention to the character in his speech.
"I want to thank the Academy for recognizing a film centered around an indigenous woman, one of the 70 million domestic workers in the world without work rights," he continued, "a character that historically had been relegated [to] the backgrounds of cinema. As artists, our job is to look where others don't. This responsibility becomes much more important in times when we are being encouraged to look away."
Cuarón's earlier win for Best Cinematography made him the first director ever to win that particular statue. In 2014, he was the first Latin American director to win Best Director for his film Gravity.
This year, he beat out Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite; Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman (which earlier nabbed him his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay); Adam McKay's Vice; and Paweł Pawlikowski's Cold War. Roma was also up for Best Picture.
See all the 2019 Oscar winners right here.