Scorsese wins DGA feature film award


Looks like it just could be Marty's year.

In what finally could signal an Oscar win for the oft-nominated director, Martin Scorsese copped the DGA feature film award Saturday for "The Departed." The gritty mob drama overcame competition from the helmers of "Dreamgirls," "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Queen" and "Babel."

A sixth loss at the Academy Awards on Feb. 25 would give Scorsese the record for most Oscar noms without winning. But the DGA feature film award has mirrored Oscar's best director selection in 52 of the past 58 years, including last year, when Ang Lee won both for "Brokeback Mountain."

The last time the Academy gave a directing Oscar to someone other than the year's DGA feature winner was 2003, when the DGA went with Rob Marshall for "Chicago" while Oscar lauded Roman Polanski for "The Pianist."

Directors who will be competing against Scorsese at the Academy Awards include Clint Eastwood for "Letters From Iwo Jima," Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for "Babel," Stephen Frears for "Queen" and Paul Greengrass for "United 93."

The DGA Awards presents all feature nominees with medallions just before announcing a winner, and when Scorsese headed to the podium to receive his medal from Leonardo DiCaprio, he was the sole nominee to receive a standing ovation. So when the diminutive director -- referred to simply as "Marty" by so many of his contemporaries in the course of the night -- returned to accept his DGA Award, it was the most unsurprising of denouements.

"This picture, for me, started out as a genre film," Scorsese said in accepting the award.

As such, his vision of success for the film was relatively modest, he added.

"I didn't think I'd be standing here today, I really didn't," he said.

Scorsese noted some surprise at the big boxoffice for the $265 million worldwide earner and recalled an observation about early grosses.

"If you look at the graph at the spikes at where the picture is doing really great figures, it's like looking at a veritable map of the American underworld," he recalled a studio exec commenting. "Vegas, forget about it, it was amazing."

Scorsese previously had been nominated for a DGA Award for "The Aviator" (2004), "Gangs of New York" (2002), "The Age of Innocence (1993), "GoodFellas" (1990), "Raging Bull" (1980) and "Taxi Driver" (1976).

In other DGA feature categories Saturday, Walter Hill won in the telefilm category for the AMC Western "Broken Trail," and Arunas Matelis was honored for his documentary "Before Flying Back to the Earth."

The awards, bestowed at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City, were emceed by the ad lib-inclined Carl Reiner, who also received an honorary DGA life membership award.

"I'm 84, so this isn't really worth that much," he cracked.

Others who received special honors included TV director Paris Barclay and film helmer Taylor Hackford, each given the Robert B. Aldrich Award for guild service; TV director George Paul, recipient of a lifetime achievement distinction; and Terry Benson, a veteran stage manager, receiving the Franklin J. Schaffner Award for service to the industry and DGA.

DGA president Michael Apted said the evening's celebration of creative talents complemented the ongoing work of the guild on member issues. Those include the thorny matter of new-media compensation, which the DGA and others are studying carefully as the calendar approaches negotiations for new film and TV contracts at numerous guilds.

"The guild is putting time and resources into examining it all -- and going cross-eyed in the process," Apted told the 1,600 guests in the packed ballroom.

A complete list of winners follows:

Outstanding directorial achievement in feature film
Martin Scorsese, "The Departed" (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Outstanding directorial achievement in movies for television
Walter Hill, "Broken Trail" (AMC)

Outstanding directorial achievement in dramatic series night

Jon Cassar, "24" ("7:00am * 8:00am") (Fox)

Outstanding directorial achievement in comedy series
Richard Shepard, "Ugly Betty" (pilot) (ABC)

Outstanding directorial achievement in musical variety
Rob Marshall, "Tony Bennett: An American Classic" (NBC)

Outstanding directorial achievement in reality programs
Tony Sacco, "Treasure Hunters" (Episode #101) (NBC)

Outstanding directorial achievement in daytime serials
Jill Mitwell, "One Life To Live" (Episode #9779) (ABC)

Outstanding directorial achievement in children's programs
Kenny Ortega, "High School Musical" (Disney Channel)

Outstanding directorial achievement in commercials
Dante Ariola, "First Taste (Coca-Cola)", "Snowball (Traveller's Insurance)", "Human (Johnny Walker)"

Outstanding directorial achievement in documentary
Arunas Matelis, "Before Flying Back to the Earth" (Studio Nominum, Tag/Traum)

2007 DGA service and career achievement award recipients

DGA Honorary Life Membership Award
Carl Reiner

Robert B. Aldrich Service Awards
Paris Barclay, Taylor Hackford

Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award
Terry Benson

Lifetime Achievement Award in News Direction
George Paul