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Joel and Ethan Coen win DGA Award for No Country...

Joel and Ethan Coen, the writer/director brother team, won the top prize from the Directors Guild of America last evening for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. This gives the directorial duo the inside track for the same honor at the Academy Awards, where their film is nominated for 8 prizes, including Best Film of the Year. The Coens, who were nominated for the DGA Award for FARGO but did not win, were only the second two-person team to receive the Directors Guild honor, following Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for 1961's WEST SIDE STORY.

Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN stars Josh Brolin as a Texan n'er-do-well who makes off with loot from a drug deal gone bad, with Javier Bardem as a ruthless killer and Tommy Lee Jones as a seen-it-all sherrif hot on his trail. The film has been the most succesful in the Coens career, having made over $50 million worldwide so far, and still in strong release. Recent critics prizes, Academy and BAFTA nominations and some of the best reviews of the year have kept the film in theaters for over 4 months. While Javier Bardem seems a shoe-in for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, the fate of the film in other categories is less certain. Its biggest competition is the Daniel Day Lewis-starrer THERE WILL BE BLOOD, which has also garnered positive praise and critical prizes.

Following the welcome from DGA President Michael Apted to an audience of more than 1,500 guests, actor/director Carl Reiner hosted the Awards ceremony. Celebrity presenters included: Josh Brolin (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN), Gil Cates (DGA Secretary), Emile Hirsch (INTO THE WILD) and Oscar nominees Marion Cotillard (LA VIE EN ROSE), Daniel Day-Lewis (THERE WILL BE BLOOD), Hal Holbrook (INTO THE WILD), Ellen Page (JUNO), Amy Ryan (GONE BABY GONE), Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson (MICHAEL CLAYTON).

Unlike other major honors, such as tonight's Screen Actors Guild Awards, the DGA ceremony is not televised, making it a more laid-back gathering of Hollywood's elite and shielding it from some of the attention that the on-going Writers Guild strike has brought to other ceremonies. The Golden Globes banquet was canceled after stars made clear that they would not cross picket lines, and the Oscars may face the same dilemma on February 24th (the only hope for the Oscars is either a quick resolution of the strike or a special waiver that the Writers Guild would offer the Academy).

The Directors Guild, which also was coming to the end of its contract with leading Hollywood film and television producers, last week negotiated a new contract after just days of meetings with producers. A fair number of Directors Guild members also belong to the writers union, whose three-month long strike has shut down television and film production, throwing thousands in the entertainment industry out of work. Recent deals struck by such companies as United Artists, Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company with the Writers Guild may also help resuscitate talks between writers and producers, whose negotiations broke down in early December.

For more information and a complete list of winners, visit the Directors Guild website:

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor on


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