DGA victory gives Coens Oscar boost

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The directing team of Joel and Ethan Coen received the DGA Award for feature film directing Saturday for their edgy thriller "No Country for Old Men."

The Coens picked up the award at the DGA Awards' 60th anniversary gala, held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. It marked the first time the DGA Award went to a directing duo since 1961, when Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins were honored for helming "West Side Story."

"No Country" — an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel — is a co-production of distributor Miramax and Paramount Vantage.

First-time winners of the DGA Award, the Coens also figure among the nominees in Oscar's directing category. "No Country" also is among the Academy Award nominees for best picture.

The DGA award for feature film is a good indicator of who will win the best directing Oscar. Only six times in the past 59 years have the DGA and the Academy disagreed on their choice of helmers.

The DGA award also is often a predictor of Oscar's best picture. Other nominees in the DGA's feature film category this year included Tony Gilroy for "Michael Clayton," Julian Schnabel for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Paul Thomas Anderson for "There Will Be Blood" and Sean Penn for "Into the Wild."

Carl Reiner held forth as usual with his customary emcee improv. Even a planter near the awards podium served as fodder for one riff.

Josh Brolin, who introduced the Coens as they picked up a nomination medallion early in the night, also produced several well-received comic jibes. But he also shared certain insights of working with the fraternal directing team in acting on "No Country."

Brolin said he was happy to be asked to introduce "the directors who never — and I mean never argue — and never undermine each other."

Ethan Coen lauded the McCarthy novel on which the film was based, and Joel Coen thanked producer Scott Rudin for delivering the project.

"This is big in every respect," Joel Coen said, raising aloft the sizable DGA Award.

Elsewhere among the evening's highlights, the audience applauded lustily at any reference to the DGA's recently secured new collective bargaining agreement. On Sunday, the DGA board unanimously approved the pact, which now goes to the members for ratification. Ballots must be returned by Feb. 20.

DGA executive director Jay Roth, who helped negotiate the contract, received a lifetime achievement award from the guild. Roth has served in his post for 25 years after a long career as a private-practice labor attorney.

"We made important gains," DGA president Michael Apted said of the new pact, which some industry figures believe can be used as a template for ending the three-month writers strike.

The tentative contract delivers some clear messages to studios employers, Apted added. "The Internet is not free, and we need to be paid for the use and reuse of our work," he said.

A complete list of DGA Award winners follows.Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Feature Film

Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax/Paramount Vantage)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Movies For Television

Yves Simoneau, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (HBO)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Dramatic Series Night

Alan Taylor, "Mad Men" ("Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" pilot) (AMC)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Comedy Series

Barry Sonnenfeld, "Pushing Daisies" ("Pie-lette") (ABC)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Musical Variety

Glenn P. Weiss, "The 61st Annual Tony Awards" (CBS)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Reality Programs

Bertram Van Munster, "The Amazing Race" ("Episode 1110") (CBS)Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Daytime Serials

Larry Carpenter, "One Life to Live" ("Episode 9947") (ABC)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Children's Programs

Paul Hoen, "Jump In" (Disney Channel)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Commercials

Nicolai Fuglsig, "Tipping Point" (Guinness), "It's Magic" (JC Penney), "Journey" (Motorola)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement In Documentary

Asger Leth, "Ghosts of Cite Soleil" (Sony Bmg Feature Films)

Dga HONORARY LIFE MEMBERSHIP AWARD

Jay D. Roth

Frank Capra Achievement Award

Liz Ryan

Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award

Barbara J. Roche
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