Tom Hooper made a movie about giving speeches on a grand stage – and then he got to make one himself.
The 38-year-old British filmmaker took home the best director prize at
on Sunday night for
about how King George VI overcame a debilitating stutter to rally the British Empire on the eve of
. The movie is only Hooper's second major theatrical feature, after his soccer picture "The Damned United." He also directed the
miniseries "John Adams."
The last time someone with so little big screen experience won the best director Oscar was novice
in 1999 for
In accepting his award, Hooper thanked stars
, whom the director said had joined him in a "triangle of man love." His most personal appreciation went out to his mother, who attended a reading of the stage version of "The King's Speech" in 2007 and called her son right after.
"She said, 'Tom, I think I've found your next film,' " Hooper said to laughs. "The moral of the story is: Listen to your mother."
The director category was one of the few nail-biters of the evening. Hooper won the Directors Guild of America prize, which has mirrored the Academy Awards pick nine times in the past decade. But
had won a slew of critics' awards as well as the
, and even the top directing honor from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Hooper's home country.
Hooper's win continued a magic-carpet ride for Weinstein Co.'s "The King's Speech." Once considered a longshot for the top film industry prizes, the movie gained momentum as awards season went on; Hooper's win at the DGA was seen as a key turning point.
Since he came to prominence with "Speech," Hooper has been weighing offers in Hollywood. But the filmmaker has yet to decide on his next project.