Is this Martin Scorsese's year? Finally?
Scorsese seemed one step closer to the elusive Oscar Saturday night by claiming the Directors Guild of America's top prize for his good-rat, bad-rat drama The Departed.
As the DGA is fond of pointing out, its award is a "near-perfect barometer" of which way the wind is blowing for the Best Director Oscar. To date, since 1949, only six DGA winners have failed to nab the corresponding prize at the Academy Awards.
For Scorsese, the DGA had been just as hard to win as the Oscar. Before Saturday, he'd been nominated—and lost—six times, coming away empty-handed for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, GoodFellas, The Age of Innocence, Gangs of New York and The Aviator.
"I did not think I'd be standing here tonight, I'll tell you that," the newly award-winning Scorsese said Saturday, per Variety.
Scorsese's win comes three years after the guild made sure he got something out of Taxi Driver, et al., and presented him with its lifetime achievement award.
Scorsese's win also means Oscar's Best Picture race looks as tricky as ever to handicap.
At the Golden Globes, Scorsese won Best Director, but Babel and Dreamgirls, which isn't even a Best Picture Oscar nominee, claimed the top film awards. At the Producers Guild of America Awards, Little Miss Sunshine, whose two directors were up for the DGA, but are not up for the Best Director Oscar, was the big winner. And at the Oscar nominations, Clint Eastwood, who wasn't even up for a DGA, scored a directing nod for Letters from Iwo Jima, which landed a berth in the Best Picture field.
Put it all together, and the front-runner for the top Academy Award is: Letters from Babel to Little Miss Departed.
Elsewhere at the DGAs, directors of Fox's 24 and ABC's Ugly Betty took the TV awards for drama and comedy series, respectively, while Kenny Ortega won for serving the tween nation with the Disney Channel's High School Musical.
Carl Reiner, who hosted Saturday's black-tie event in Los Angeles, picked up the guild's honorary Life Member Award for his work behind the camera on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Jerk and others.
Helen Mirren, for a change, didn't win anything, leaving husband Taylor Hackford (Ray) to stock the family mantle with the guild's honorary service award.
Here's a complete look at the winners of the 59th annual Directors Guild of America Awards:
Feature Film: Martin Scorsese, The Departed
TV Movie: Walter Hill, Broken Trail
Dramatic Series: Jon Cassar, 24
Comedy Series: Richard Shepard, Ugly Betty
Musical Variety: Rob Marshall, Tony Bennett: An American Classic
Reality Programs: Tony Sacco, Treasure Hunters
Daytime Serials: Jill Mitwell, One Life to Live
Documentary Arunas Matelis, Before Flying Back to the Earth
Commercials Dante Ariola
Children's Programs: Kenny Ortega, High School Musical
Life Member Award: Carl Reiner
Service Award: Paris Barclay and Taylor Hackford
Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award: Terry Benson
Lifetime Achievement Award in News Direction: George Paul