Of all the Oscar precursors, there is one that stands above the rest in terms of successfully predicting which film will take Hollywood's top prize; the Director's Guild of America award. DGA voters have a stunning 91% accuracy rate of lining up with the Academy Awards. Let that sink in for a second ... in the 64 year history of the DGA awards, only six times have they not matched up with the Oscars. This year though will be one of those rare anomalies.
Affleck Gains Momentum
The top prize again went to Ben Affleck for Argo. Ever since Affleck was first snubbed in the directing category by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) last month, Argo has been unstoppable. From the Critics' Choice Awards to the Golden Globes and now three of the top industry guilds, Argo has run the table. Tonight’s win also makes Affleck only the third person to win the top DGA award and NOT receive a Oscar nomination in the category.
Odds Won’t Matter For Oscars
Regardless of the "Affleck-backlash" factor, the odds were pretty good the two groups would fail to match up this year. After all, of this year's five DGA-nominated directors only two (Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee) are also nominated at this year's Oscars, where incidentally Spielberg is still considered to be the favorite for helming Lincoln.
Yet even though Affleck (along with fellow DGA award nominees Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hooper) was snubbed, he could still be standing on the big stage on Oscar night as he's also one of Argo's producers. Should that happen, Argo will be only the fourth film in the 85 year history of Academy Awards to win for Best Picture and not have its director at least nominated. The last time this happened was 1989 when Driving Miss Daisy won and before that you have to all the way back to 1932's Grand Hotel.
The Director's Guild also honored Malik Bendjelloul for his critically acclaimed documentary Searching For Sugar Man which is also nominated at next month's Academy Awards.
Small Screen Makes Big Waves
However the DGA's didn't only reward the best in film they also rewarded the best in television with a number of series and specials taking home honors. On the comedy directing side Lena Denham won her first DGA award for Girls' pilot, while in the drama field Rian Johnson also won his first DGA prize for directing the Breaking Bad episode Fifty-One.
In addition the night proved successful for Jay Roach who won his second DGA award for HBO's Game Change. Roach previously won the made-for-TV movie category back in 2008 for the similarly politically themed Recount.
A Dose of Reality and an Award for Awards
Other television winners included Brian Smith for Fox's Master Chef (Reality), Jill Mitwell for ABC's One Life To Live (Daytime Serial), Paul Hoen for Disney's Let It Shine (Children's Programming) and Glenn Weiss for CBS' presentation of the 66th Annual Tony Awards (Musical Variety). Filmmaker Alejandro G. Inarritu was also honored for his Proctor and Gamble commercial "Best Job." Inarritu was previously nominated in the feature film category in 2006 for Babel.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Special honors were handed out to Milos Forman (Lifetime Achievement Award in Motion Picture Direction), Michael Apted (Robert B. Aldrich Award for extraordinary service to the Directors Guild of America and to its membership), Eric Shapiro (Lifetime Achievement Award in News Direction), Susan Zwerman (Frank Capra Achievement Award given to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager), and Dency Nelson (Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager).
"To call any of these people my peers is surreal" - Lena Dunham accepting her award for directing the Girls pilot.
"I guess Bill Clinton was booked. Tonight, we honor Steven for his magnificent film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer." - Martin Short introducing DGA award nominee Steven Spielberg
"When you tell your assistant to contact Marty about presenting you with your DGA medallion, you've got to assume she's understanding that you're talking about Scorsese." - Steven Spielberg addressing the DGA awards audience following an introduction by Martin Short.
"He’s earned right to be considered one of our industry’s best." - Bryan Cranston paying tribute to his Argo director Ben Affleck
“I look out and see all these great directors. I feel I should be auditioning.” - Ben Affleck addressing the DGA awards audience following an introduction by Argo co-star Bryan Cranston.