- Associated Press - Saturday, January 29, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The makers of Academy Awards favorites “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech” are among those competing for top honors from the Directors Guild of America, one of Hollywood’s last prize shows before the Oscars.

“The Social Network” filmmaker David Fincher is considered the front-runner for Saturday night’s guild awards, whose winner almost always goes on to claim the directing prize at the Oscars.

Tom Hooper _ director of “The King’s Speech,” which leads the Oscars with 12 nominations _ also is up for the guild honor, along with Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan,” Christopher Nolan for “Inception” and David O. Russell for “The Fighter.”

Once again, Nolan is odd man out at the Directors Guild honors, the only contender who was not nominated for the directing Oscar. The same thing happened to Nolan two years ago, when he was up for the guild prize for “The Dark Knight” but was overlooked for a best-director nomination at the Oscars.

Joining Aronofsky, Fincher, Hooper and Russell in the Oscar race for director are Joel and Ethan Coen for “True Grit.”

Only six times in the 62-year history of the guild awards has the winner failed to take home the Oscar for best director.

Fincher, a past guild and Oscar nominee for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” won the directing prize at the Golden Globes for “The Social Network,” which also earned him best-director honors from key critics groups.

The Directors Guild prizes are followed this weekend by Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, the last big honors before the Feb. 27 Oscars.

Besides its feature-film prize, the Directors Guild also will present awards in documentary, television and commercial categories.

Presenters include last year’s feature-film recipient, “The Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to win the guild award and directing Oscar. Other presenters include Bigelow’s ex-husband, “Avatar” creator James Cameron, whom she beat for Hollywood’s top directing prizes a year ago, and such stars and filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio and Helen Mirren.

Current Oscar nominees Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Melissa Leo and Jennifer Lawrence also are on the presenter list for the guild awards, which are not televised.




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