The Directors Guild of America on Saturday evening named Tom Hooper best director of 2010 for "The King's Speech," the film based on the real-life story of King George VI's battle to overcome a debilitating stammer. It is the first guild win in the feature category for the 38-year-old filmmaker.
"Oh my God," said a surprised Hooper. "I am so grateful to my wonderful cast. I am overwhelmed. This is the highest honor of my life."
Hooper was nominated for a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award. He's also in contention for a BAFTA and an Academy Award.
"The King's Speech" was the surprise winner last week at the Producers Guild of America Awards -- the Facebook drama "The Social Network" had been favored to win the prize -- and leads the list of most-nominated films heading into the Academy Awards with 12.
The DGA Awards are one of the most dependable bellwethers of the Academy Awards. In fact, in the last 62 years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the DGA have disagreed in their choices only six times.
The 63rd annual DGA ceremony was held at the Renaissance Hotel at Hollywood and Highland with Carl Reiner hosting.
The guild awarded its prize for directing a TV drama series to Martin Scorsese for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," though Scorsese, who was said to be ill, did not attend the ceremony. Charles Ferguson won in the documentary category for his feature "Inside Job." Mick Jackson won for directorial achievement in movies for television and miniseries for HBO's "Temple Grandin," while Michael Spiller won for the ABC hit "Modern Family" in the TV comedy series category.
Glenn Weiss won in the musical/variety race for his direction of the 64th annual Tony Awards (CBS), and Larry Carpenter won for his work on "One Life to Live" in the daytime serials category.
The DGA also kicked off its 75th anniversary at the ceremony with DGA winners including Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, John Rich and Steven Spielberg introducing special film-clip presentations on "game-changing" moments in the guild's history.
Among the other awards handed out, Eytan Keller won for outstanding achievement in reality programs for "The Next Iron Chef" (Food Network); Eric Bross won top honors in the children's programs category for "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf" (Nickelodeon); and Stacy Wall was recognized for his achievement in commercials directing.
-- Susan King
Photo: Tom Hooper at the James Hotel in Chicago. Credit: Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune