| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Feb 2 Actor-turned-filmmaker Ben
Affleck won the top honor from his peers at the Directors Guild
of America on Saturday for the movie "Argo", cementing the Iran
hostage drama's frontrunner status for the Oscars.
The Hollywood directors' recognition for Affleck, however,
is an awkward result for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and
Sciences, which failed to nominate him for Best Director in what
is considered one of the biggest snubs of this year's Oscars.
Since 1948, there have been only six occasions when the
Directors Guild of America (DGA) winner has not gone on to win
the Oscar for Best Director.
"I have nothing but respect for the Academy," Affleck said
after collecting his first DGA award. The Hollywood star, a
producer of "Argo", said he was thrilled the film was nominated
for the Oscars' Best Picture award.
"You are not entitled to win anything," he said.
The DGA is often a good indicator of Oscar winners as DGA
members are also members of the Academy. The Oscar for Best
Picture also often goes to the winner of the DGA's award. The
Oscars will be held on Feb. 24.
Affleck triumphed on Saturday over four directors who have
all won the top DGA honor and gone on to win the Best Director
Among those defeated on Saturday was Steven Spielberg, whose
Civil War-era drama "Lincoln" has lost to "Argo" in successive
award ceremonies this season. The two-time DGA winner for
"Schindler's List" in 1994 and "Saving Private Ryan" in 1999
collected his 11th nomination from his peers with "Lincoln".
The other three unsuccessful nominees were Kathryn Bigelow
for Osama bin Laden-manhunt thriller "Zero Dark Thirty," Ang Lee
for his 3D adaptation of the bestselling novel "Life of Pi", and
Tom Hooper, for his screen adaptation of the hit musical "Les
In "Argo", which is based on a real account, Affleck also
plays the lead role of a CIA agent entrusted with extracting six
Americans from revolutionary Iran after the U.S. embassy is
stormed. The agent, with help from Hollywood, creates a fake
film and makes the Americans part of the crew.
So far in the awards season, Affleck has won Best Director
at the Golden Globes while "Argo" won Best Drama. The cast was
also recognized with the top honor from the Screen Actors Guild.
"There was a point in my life where I was really down and
really confused ... didn't know what was going to happen and I
thought 'I could be a director'," Affleck told the high-power
Hollywood crowd on Saturday.
"I don't believe this makes me a real director, but I think
I am on my way," he said.
Another young director also collected a top award on
Saturday - Lena Dunham for Best Comedy Series for "Girls", the
HBO show about four girls in Brooklyn and their travails over
sex, work and making it in the big city.
"This is surreal, which I know is an over-used Los Angeles
word," said Dunham, who often appears in the show she created
wearing little or no clothes.
(Editing by Pravin Char)