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DGA honours Affleck as Oscar confusion grows

The Directors Guild of America has given its top award — for directing a feature film – to Ben Affleck, for Argo, his telling of the CIA rescue of Americans from the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The DGA Award is seen as one of the most reliable of all Oscar-predictors, with the Guild failing to pick the same winner as the Academy only seven times in its 64 year history. But this record is certain to be damaged this year, as the DGA winner wasn’t even nominated by the Academy.

Affleck’s surprise omission from the Oscar shortlist hasn’t put off any of the other awards-giving bodies; since he missed out on a directing nomination, he and his film have been picking up prizes — at the Golden Globes, at the Screen Actors Guild and at a range of critics awards.

Usually, as each set of awards is handed out, the possible Oscar winners become clearer — but the DGA’s support for Affleck has left the Best Directing Oscar race more open than it has been for years, with Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee the most likely contenders.

But the DGA’s decision has also made Argo an even stronger front-runner for the Best Picture award next month — which, in itself, is unusual, because traditionally, the Best Director and Best Picture honours tend to go to the same film.

The DGA’s other awards, handed out at a Hollywood dinner, include Looper director Rian Johnson for Breaking Bad in the dramatic TV category, Lena Dunham for the TV comedy Girls and Jay Roach for the TV movie Game Change. Malik Bendjelloul Searching for Sugar Man won the DGA’s Best Documentary award.

The Guild also honoured Milos Forman with a Lifetime Achievement award and Michael Apted for his service to the DGA over the years.

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