Quebec filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée wins 1st Emmy Award for Big Little Lies

Jean-Marc Vallée has become a coveted director and producer in Hollywood.

Vallée has become an influential director in both Quebec and Hollywood

Director Jean-Marc Vallée accepts his award for Big Little Lies onstage during the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Quebec director and Montreal native Jean-Marc Vallée has won his first Emmy Award for his work as director and executive producer of HBO's miniseries Big Little Lies.

The series, its production team and cast also won big Sunday night, raking in eight awards including outstanding lead actress in a limited series for Nicole Kidman, outstanding supporting actress for Laura Dern and outstanding limited series for the show as a whole. 

Dern praised Vallée during her acceptance speech as well as to reporters afterward, when she said working with him on Big Little Lies was like "doing a little dance" every day. She also noted he was "gender blind," treating actors equally no matter their gender.

Kidman also thanked Vallée during her speech, highlighting his "passion and artistry."

Vallée is known for producing some of the most acclaimed films to come out of Quebec in decades.

But beyond his contributions to local filmmaking, he's becoming more and more coveted in Hollywood, snagging Oscar nominations for The Young Victoria (2009), Dallas Buyers Club (2013) and Wild (2015).

But just how did Vallée go from studying filmmaking at Collège Ahuntsic to working with top Hollywood actors like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey?

Vallée released his first feature length film, Liste noire (Black List), in 1995. It went on to become the highest-grossing film in Quebec that year.

In the wake of his first feature's success, the Université de Montréal graduate moved to Los Angeles.

His next high-profile project, a film about a man dealing with homophobia in the Montreal suburbs of the 1960s and 70s, was a huge success financially and critically.

Jean-Marc Vallée, far right, poses with the cast and crew of his HBO show Big Little Lies. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

C.R.A.Z.Y., released in 2005 and co-written and directed by Vallée, grossed over $6.2 million in Quebec and garnered 100 per cent on film ratings site Rotten Tomatoes.

The film was nominated for a stunning 45 awards over a span of two years following its release, 38 of which it won.

After C.R.A.Z.Y., Hollywood began to take notice, with Vallée being tapped by producer Martin Scorsese to direct The Young Victoria. 

The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning for best costume design. Vallée's star continued to rise as he set to work on his follow-up, the critically acclaimed Dallas Buyers Club.

The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning two for actors McConaughey and Jared Leto. Vallée himself was also nominated in the film editing category, under a false name — John Mac McMurphy.

He was also recognized by the Academy for his immediate follow-up, Wild, starring Witherspoon. She later picked up an Oscar nomination for best actress for her role in the film.

Now collaborating again on Big Little Lies, Witherspoon told the Toronto Star that Vallée was originally only signed on to direct a few episodes of the series but "then we all attacked him and begged him to do more."

"I've never worked with a director who felt the performances, who will sit and cry with you about what your character is feeling, is there with you," said Witherspoon.

Reese Witherspoon worked with Vallée on Wild (2009) and again for Big Little Lies. (GI/Getty/Jason Kempin)

The show, based on the novel of the same name, was nominated for 16 Emmys in total, including nods for other Quebec talents, such as cinematographer Yves Bélanger, and sound mixers Gavin Fernandes and Louis Gignac.

Despite his success, Vallée shows no signs of resting on his laurels.

He's already signed on to direct the new HBO miniseries Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams, based on the book of the same name.

with files from Zulekha Nathoo