By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 29, 2012 at 8:24AM
It's a decade since the winner of the Director's Guild of America award went on to lose the Oscar -- Rob Marshall picked up the DGA prize for "Chicago" in 2002, only to lose out to Roman Polanski for "The Pianist" at the Academy Awards. Two years before that, DGA winner Ang Lee was beaten by Steven Soderbergh. In the last forty years, only four in total (the others being Steven Spielberg for "The Color Purple" and Ron Howard for "Apollo 13," neither of whom even picked up Oscar nominations) have won with the Director's Guild without picking up the Oscar.
As such, last night's DGA Awards promised to be a pivotal moment in the awards season. Despite the dominance of "The Artist" in the race so far, the director category remained competive, with the relatively little known Michel Hazanavicius facing threats from Martin Scorsese for "Hugo" and Alexander Payne for "The Descendants." Could the DGA throw things open again?
Not so much, no. Tom Hooper, last year's winner (who went on, against the predictions of some, to beat David Fincher to the Oscar), last night presented Hazanavicius with the organization's Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Award, beating Scorsese, Payne, Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris" and David Fincher for "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." This pretty much puts him on course to win the prize from the Academy as well, as well as further cementing his film as a near-lock for Best Picture.
Elsewhere, James Marsh won the Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Film award for "Project Nim" (although his film was this week snubbed by the Oscar nominations), beating Scorsese, Steve James, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky and Richard Press, while "300: Battle of Artimesia" director Noam Murro won best Commercials director, for his work on, among others, Heineken and Volkswagen.
Finally, Patty Jenkins ("Monster"), Robert B. Weide and Jon Casar won television awards for their work on, respectively, "The Killing," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Kennedys." Awards season continues tonight with the SAG Awards -- we're expecting "The Help" to take the ensemble prize there, but if "The Artist" wins there too, well, everyone else might as well head to Aruba for the next month. Check back this evening to see how it turns out. [Indiewire]