Affleck, Spielberg Among DGA Award Nominees

The nominees for the Directors Guild of America's 65th annual Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film Award were announced today and Steven Spielberg led the way, earning his 11th DGA Awards nomination for "Lincoln."

Spielberg, who has won the award a record three times (for 1985's "The Color Purple," 1993's "Schindler's List" and 1998's "Saving Private Ryan") wasn't the only multiple DGA winner to receive another nod. Ang Lee, who earned his fourth career nomination, for "Life of Pi," has previously won the award twice (for 2000's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and 2005's "Brokeback Mountain."

In fact, Ben Affleck, who earned his first DGA nomination for the political thriller "Argo," is the only one of this year's nominees who hasn't previously won the award.  (He also starred in the film.) Kathryn Bigelow, who was nominated for her controversial film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, "Zero Dark Thirty," won in 2009 for "The Hurt Locker," while Tom Hooper, who was nominated this year for the musical "Les Misérables," won in 2010 for "The King's Speech."

Despite the familiarity of most of the nominees this year, though, there still were some surprises. The inclusion of both Hooper, whose choices for "Les Misérables" have been questioned by some critics, and Lee, who has received more critical praise than audience support, meant that a number of frontrunners were left out in the cold, including Quentin Tarantino for "Django Unchained," David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook" and Paul Thomas Anderson for "The Master."

That's important because the DGA Award is seen as a reliable predictor for the Oscar race; only six times in the awards' 65-year history has the Academy and the Directors Guild differed, the last time being a decade ago when Rob Marshall won the DGA for "Chicago" and Roman Polanski won the Oscar for "The Pianist." Being left off the ballot entirely, then, means it will be a real longshot for Tarantino, Russell or Anderson to make any waves at the Oscars this year.

Winners will be announced at the DGA Awards Dinner on Saturday, February 3. Nominees in the television category are set to be announced tomorrow; full details can be found on the DGA's official site.