DGA Awards: Ben Affleck Named Best Director for 'Argo'
UPDATED: Lena Dunham is lauded for "Girls"; Rian Johnson of "Breaking Bad" and Jay Roach of "Game Change" are also honored.
The 65th annual Directors Guild of America Awards ceremony saw Ben Affleck continue his streak of taking home prizes for Argo. The 40-year-old actor-turned-director won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Films at the awards dinner, which was held Saturday night at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.
"I don't think this makes me a real director, but I think it means I'm on my way," he said as he accepted the honor.
In the process, a new awards season statistic was created. The DGA Award usually points the way to the best director Oscar winner, since on only six occasions since the DGA Awards began in 1948 has the DGA winner failed to become the Academy's best director winner. But that number now goes to seven, since Affleck isn't nominated for a directing Oscar.
Argo is nominated for seven Academy Awards, though, and now becomes the odds-on favorite, since in recent weeks it's won two Globes, two Critics Choice Awards, the PGA Award and the SAG ensemble award.
In addition to Affleck, this year's nominees for film were Kathryn Bigelow, nominated for Zero Dark Thirty; Tom Hooper, Les Miserables; Ang Lee, Life of Pi; and Steven Spielberg, Lincoln.
As is the tradition at the DGA Awards, each of the feature film nominees were invited onstage during the course of the evening to accept a medallion.
Introducing Affleck, Bryan Cranston said his Argo director has earned the right to be considered "one of our industry's best." And Affleck responded, "I look out and see all these great directors. I feel I should be auditioning." Lee told his fellow directors that the recognition meant more to him than even his Oscar, because "you know how hard it is to make movies." Bigelow, who has come under attack in some quarters for her film's depictions of torture, used her time to underscore the importance of artistic freedom, saying, "None of us here could do what we do without having the freedom of artistic expression."
Hooper was introduced by Les Mis stars Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, who playfully testified to the director's demands, with Jackman calling him "batshit crazy." Hooper, in turn, spoke of the lengths the two actors went to to become their characters -- saying that, too, was a form of craziness -- and then invited his entire directing team, who flew in from London, onstage to share the honor of the nomination.
Martin Short, invited to introduce Spielberg, provided some of the best jokes of the evening. "It's more than a thrill, it's an obligation," he said of his participation, adding, "Obviously, Bill Clinton was booked." He went on to proclaim, "Tonight we honor Steven Spielberg for his magnificent movie, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer!" But Spielberg gave as good as he got, beginning his remarks by saying, "When you tell your assistant to contact Marty, you just assume she understands you're talking about Scorsese."
The award for outstanding documentary work went to Malik Bendjelloul for Searching for Sugar Man, the doc about musician Sixto Rodriguez, which also is looking like an Oscar front-runner in its category following its Critics Choice and PGA wins.
On the television front, Lena Dunham took home the first award of the night, for the pilot of her HBO comedy Girls. In her acceptance speech, the 26-year-old said for her to consider her fellow nominees her peers was "surreal."
Jay Roach claimed the award for best MOV/Mini-series for his Sarah Palin-focused HBO film Game Change and noted that it has been "a year in which political films got made and got a lot of attention."
Rian Johnson, who was honored in the dramatic series category for an episode of AMC's Breaking Bad, said he was "lucky and privileged to ride on the bus for a couple of stops."
The evening's penultimate moments were given over to a video tribute to director Milos Forman, recipient of the guild's Lifetime Achievement Award. Actors like Annette Bening and Danny DeVito appeared in the piece, which recounted the Czech-born director's remarkable career with clips from such movies as The Fireman's Ball, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus and The People vs. Larry Flynt, which underscored the importance that Forman -- who fled Communism in his native country to establish a second career in America -- placed on freedom.
Because of illness, Forman, who lives in Connecticut, was not able to attend. But DGA president Taylor Hackford read a letter from Forman, in which he thanked the DGA twice: first for the current award, and then for the directors like Mike Nichols, Sidney Lumet, Franklin Schaffner and Buck Henry who stood up for him in the '70s when he was in danger of being deported by the United States. Taylor then led the room in a glasses-lifted-on-high toast to Forman.
Among the evening's other honors: Former DGA president Michael Apted was presented with the Robert B. Aldrich Award for his service to the guild. Longtime CBS News director Eric Shapiro was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in News Direction. Susan Zwerman was recognized with the Frank Capra Achievement Award. And Dency Nelson received the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award.
Grammer began the show by joking that waiting to hear who won must be "torture" for Bigelow. Riffing on 2012's films, he said "In Django, we learned that the D was silent but the N was not."
The complete list of nominees is below, with winners in red and offset by an asterisk.
*WINNER BEN AFFLECK
(Warner Bros. Pictures)
Zero Dark Thirty
Life of Pi
(20th Century Fox)
(DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox)
The Invisible War
*WINNER MALIK BENDJELLOUL
Searching For Sugar Man
The Queen of Versailles
How To Survive A Plague
Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry
MOVIES FOR TELEVISION AND MINI-SERIES
Political Animals, “Pilot”
Hemingway & Gellhorn
Hatfields & McCoys
*WINNER JAY ROACH
American Horror Story: Asylum, “Dark Cousin”
Homeland, “The Choice”
Mad Men, “A Little Kiss”
LESLI LINKA GLATTER
Homeland, “Q & A”
*WINNER RIAN JOHNSON
Breaking Bad, “Fifty-One”
The Newsroom, “We Just Decided To”
Louie, “New Year’s Eve”
The Big Bang Theory, “The Date Night Variable”
Modern Family, “Election Day”
*WINNER LENA DUNHAM
30 Rock, “Live from Studio 6H”
12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief
(Multiple Networks/Cable Outlets)
DON ROY KING
Saturday Night Live with Host Mick Jagger
84th Annual Academy Awards
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, “#17153”
*WINNER GLENN WEISS
66th Annual Tony Awards
America’s Next Top Model, “The Girl Who Becomes America’s Next Top Model”
Face Off, “Scene of the Crime”
*WINNER BRIAN SMITH
Master Chef, “Episode #305”
J. RUPERT THOMPSON
Stars Earn Stripes, “Amphibious Assault”
Ink Master, “Episode 103”
Days Of Our Lives, “11895”
General Hospital, “Bad Water”
General Hospital, “Magic Milo”
General Hospital, “Shot Through The Heart”
*WINNER JILL MITWELL
One Life To Live, “Between Heaven and Hell”
Girl vs. Monster
*WINNER PAUL HOEN
Let it Shine
SAVAGE STEVE HOLLAND
Big Time Movie
Don’t Divorce Me! Kids’ Rules for Parents on Divorce
Jogger, Nike – Wieden + Kennedy, Portland
The Dog Strikes Back, Volkswagen 2012 – Deutsch LA
Thread, Levi’s – Wieden + Kennedy, Portland
Greatness, Nike – Wieden + Kennedy, Portland
MJZ/The Sweet Shop
Beer Chase, Carlton Draught – Clemenger BBDO/Melbourne
Let Me Go, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas – Fallon Minneapolis
Surfer, Puma – Droga5
Eternal Optimism, Budweiser – Anomaly
*WINNER ALEJANDRO G. INARRITU
Best Job, Proctor and Gamble – Wieden + Kennedy
Terry Crews Muscle Music, Old Spice – Wieden + Kennedy NY
Stray Animals, DirecTV – Grey
Roadside Ditch, DirecTV – Grey
Platoon, DirecTV – Grey, NY