Minghella beat a partial field of his Oscar competitors, namely Joel Coen (Fargo), Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire), Scott Hicks (Shine) and Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies). The guild did not nominate Milos Forman for The People vs. Larry Flynt or
Alan Parker for Evita.
"We're not horses and we're not in a race," Minghella insisted in his acceptance speech at the black-tie affair in Los Angeles. "We're all directors trying to survive."
Al Pacino won a trophy for best-documentary direction for his hybrid reportage on/performance of Shakespeare, Waiting for Richard. "This is a total surprise to me," he said, seeming genuinely flustered--and prompting master of ceremonies Carl Reiner to periodically invite him back to the stage during the evening to finish his thank-you's.
The guild also honored Stanley Kubrick with its D. W. Griffith Award for career achievement. Kubrick is in England shooting Eyes Wide Shut and sent Jack Nicholson (who worked with the director on The Shining to accept.
The normally laconic actor gave a rambling tribute to Kubrick--including a poem about a praying mantis, which didn't seem to have much to do with anything--and praised him for the "oblique" and always surprising take on life in the director's films. Kubrick's work, he said, "is a prayer with teeth in it."