‘Girls,’ ‘Sugar Man’ earn Directors Guild honors

LOS ANGELES (AP) - “Girls” star Lena Dunham has won the TV comedy directing prize from the Directors Guild of America, while the musical portrait “Searching for Sugar Man” earned the documentary award.

Dunham won Saturday for directing the pilot of the show, which focuses on the lives of a group of girls in their 20s.

“It is such an unbelievable honor to be in the company of the people in this room, who have made me want to do this with my life,” Dunham said.

Malik Bendjelloul won the documentary award for “Sugar Man,” his study of the fate of critically acclaimed but obscure 1970s singer-songwriter Rodriquez. The film also is nominated for best documentary at the Feb. 24 Academy Awards.

Among other early TV winners:

_ Musical variety: Glenn Weiss, “The 66th Annual Tony Awards.”

_ Daytime serial: Jill Mitwell, “One Life to Live.”

_ Children’s program: Paul Hoen, “Let It Shine.”

The Directors Guild honors continued Hollywood’s strange awards season, which could culminate with a big Oscar win for Ben Affleck’s “Argo.” The guild’s prize for best director typically is a final blessing for the film that goes on to win best-picture and director at the Academy Awards.

Affleck can go only one-for-two at the Oscars, though. He’s up for the film honor at the Directors Guild, and “Argo” is looking like the best-picture favorite at the Oscars. But the director’s branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences overlooked him and several other key filmmakers for an Oscar directing slot.

The guild and Oscar directing lineups usually match up closely, but they have little in common this season, with only Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln” and Ang Lee for “Life of Pi” nominated at both shows.

Along with them and Affleck, the guild nominated Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty” and Tom Hooper for “Les Miserables.” At the Oscars, Spielberg and Lee are joined in the directing category by Michael Haneke for “Amour,” David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Director Norman Jewison, the guild’s 2010 lifetime-achievement prize winner, presented Bigelow with her nomination plaque and noted the incongruity of the Oscar best-picture field, which has nine nominees, while there are only five directing slots.

“So apparently, there were four films that were directed by themselves,” Jewison said.

With 12 Oscar nominations, Spielberg’s Civil War saga initially looked like the Oscar favorite over such other potential favorites as “Argo,” “Les Miserables” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” since films generally have little chance of winning best picture if they are not nominated for best director. Only three films have done it in 84 years, most recently 1989’s best-picture champ “Driving Miss Daisy,” which failed to earn a directing nomination for Bruce Beresford.

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