Story by: Jack Foley
CLINT Eastwood took an almighty step towards Oscar success when
he picked up the prestigious Directors' Guild of America (DGA)
award for his emotional female boxing drama, Million
Dollar Baby at the weekend.
The film beat off stiff competition from the likes of Martin
Scorsese's Oscar favourite, The Aviator,
as well as Taylor Hackford's Ray, Alexander
Payne's Sideways and Marc Forster's
And it places Eastwood as favourite to land the best director
trophy at the Academy Awards, given that 50 out of 56 past winners
of the DGA trophy have gone on to lift the Oscar.
Eastwood, hmself, has previously won a DGA award for his western
Unforgiven, which went on
to win an Oscar.
The 74-year-old veteran received
his statuette from director, Steven Spielberg, and said the win
was a genuine surprise.
"I've got to say, this is a real pleasure. I am as pleased
a punch," he added, from the ceremony in Los Angeles.
Ironically, one of Eastwood's biggest Oscar rivals, Martin Scorsese,
received a standing ovation from the Directors' Guild audience.
Scorsese has received six nominations for a DGA trophy but has
yet to convert any into a win, even though he received a lifetime
achievement award from the Guild in 2003.
Given Scorsese's success at the Producers' Guild Awards last
week, however, it now looks as though The Aviator and Million
Dollar Baby will feature most prominently at this year's Oscars
ceremony at the end of February.