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By Mary Milliken
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.
"Argo" has picked up the three top awards from the
industry's guilds, whose members are also often members of the
Last weekend, the film was the victor at both the Producers
Guild and the Screen Actors Guild awards, leaving Steven
Spielberg's Civil War-era epic "Lincoln" in its wake.
Affleck also won Best Director at the Golden Globes while
"Argo" won Best Drama. The Oscars will be held on Feb. 24.
On Saturday, Affleck bested four directors who had all
previously won the top DGA honor and gone on to win the Best
It has been a particularly tough awards season for
Spielberg, nominated by the DGA for the 11th time with "Lincoln"
and a two-time winner for "Schindler's List" in 1994 and "Saving
Private Ryan" in 1999.
"What an incredible year for movies," said Spielberg. "Maybe
I've had moments when I wished it wasn't such an incredible
Affleck also beat out Kathryn Bigelow, nominated 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.
"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-powered
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)