Ben Affleck was named outstanding director for “Argo” at the 65th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards, which were held Saturday night at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.
The win solidifies “Argo” as an Oscar frontrunner, after the film also claimed key honors from the Screen Actors and Producers guilds last weekend.
“I don’t this makes me a real director, but I think it means I’m on my way,” Affleck said in a speech.
The other nominees for the feature directing award were Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty,” Tom Hooper for “Les Miserables,” Ang Lee for “Life of Pi” and Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln.”
The DGA award for feature directing has traditionally been a reliable indicator of who will win the directing Oscar — only six times since the DGA Awards began in 1948 have the two honors differed.
But this year’s Oscar directing race has been a bit of a head-scratcher–Affleck was not nominated, despite his film receiving multiple nominations from the Academy in other categories. Bigelow and Hooper were also snubbed.
The DGA is a larger body than the Academy’s directing branch, representing 15,000 members, many of them in television.
The ceremony’s television winners included Rian Johnson, who earned the drama series award for directing the “Fifty-One” episode of “Breaking Bad”; Lena Dunham, who collected the comedy series award for directing the pilot of “Girls”; and Jay Roach, who took the movies for television/miniseries prize for “Game Change” on HBO.
The evening’s winner for documentary directing was Malik Bendjelloul, for the “Searching For Sugarman.”
A lifetime achievement award was presented to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt” director Milos Forman.
Host Kelsey Grammer kept the evening light, making jokes about Manti Te’o, Mel Gibson and Ron Jeremy, as well as some of the nominees in the room.
Grammer said to Bigelow, whose movie has been at the center of a controversy over forced interrogation, “Waiting so patiently to see if your name will be called, it must be torture for you.”
All of the evening’s feature directing nominees received a medallion from the DGA, most of them presented after an adoring speech. Martin Short, however, delivered Spielberg’s medallion in an irreverent and sometimes bawdy address.
“I like my champagne like I like my women,” Short said. “Compliments of the DGA.”
When Spielberg stood to accept the honor–receiving the night’s first full-house standing ovation–he reacted with amusement.
“When you tell your assistant to contact Marty about presenting you with the DGA medallion,” Spielberg said, “You just assume she knows you’re talking about Marty Scorsese.”
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