Tom Hooper, whose film "The King's Speech" moved to the forefront of the Oscar race in the past week with a surprise win at the Producers Guild Awards last weekend and then a leading 12 Oscar nominations, scored another key victory on Saturday night when he was named 2010's best feature film director by the Directors Guild of America.
The DGA winner for feature film directing almost invariably goes on to win the Best Director Oscar, and in most cases his (or her) film takes home the Best Picture trophy as well.
David Fincher was considered the favorite to win the DGA Award and the Oscar over the lesser-known Hooper, though the PGA results – and the fact that "The King's Speech" picked up four more nominations than Fincher's film – had cast doubt on whether "The Social Network" could continue its critics-awards supremacy through the guild awards and the Oscars.
While the DGA Award certainly does not clinch the deal for "The King's Speech," it gives the film a commanding lead heading into the homestretch of the awards race.
Charles Ferguson won the award for documentary film for his Oscar-nominated examination of the financial collapse, "Inside Job."
On the television side, the awards for comedy and dramatic series went to "Modern Family" and "Boardwalk Empire" (an episode directed by Martin Scorsese), respectively. "Temple Grandin" won in the Movies for Television and Mini-Series category, in which "The Pacific" had three of the five nominees.
The show was also used to kick off a year-long celebration of the DGA's 75th anniversary, with special segments introduced by directors including Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron. Martin Scorsese flew out to Los Angeles to participate as well -- but, explained Spielberg, he fell ill and was not able to make it to the show.
"Our industry is a bit on the back foot these days, with technology changing so fast," former DGA president Michael Apted told theWrap before the show. "We're a solid organization, and we want to spotlight continuity and not just say, 'Everything's changing and YouTube is the future.'"
The awards took place in the Grand Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center.
(Hooper photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images. Photo of DGA feature film nominees Hooper, David O. Russell, Darren Aronofsky, Christopher Nolan and David Fincher by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Feature Film: Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech"
Documentary: Charles Ferguson, "Inside Job"
Movies for Television and Mini-Series: Mick Jackson, "Temple Grandin"
Dramatic Series: Martin Scorsese, "Boardwalk Empire"
Comedy Series: Michael Spiller, "Modern Family: Halloween"
Musical Variety: Glenn Weiss, "64th Annual Tony Awards"
Reality Programs: Eytan Keller, "The Next Iron Chef," Episode #301
Daytime Serials: Larry Carpenter, "One Life to Live: Star X'd Lovers, the Musical: Part Two"
Children's Programs: Eric Bross, "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf"
Commercials: Stacy Wall, "Rise, Really?", "Slim Chin & D Rose," "Handshake"