“Slumdog Millionaire,” the longshot-turned-awards season favorite, continues on its hot streak, with director Danny Boyle taking the top honor from the Directors Guild of America.
Boyle won the trophy Saturday night at the DGA Awards ceremony at the Century Plaza. The Brit helmer beat out David Fincher for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Ron Howard for “Frost/Nixon,” Christopher Nolan for “The Dark Knight” and Gus Van Sant for “Milk” at the DGA’s 61st annual kudos.
“If I can get here, so can you,” Boyle told the audience in a brief acceptance speech. “Dream kind, dream hard.”
The victory keeps “Slumdog’s” momentum going following victories last month at the SAG Awards, the PGAs and the Golden Globes. “Slumdog” is up for 10 Oscars; in the director race Boyle will face off against Fincher, Howard, Van Sant and Stephen Daldry for “The Reader.”
The DGA award for director has been a reliable indicator of Oscar success, with 54 of the past 60 winners going on to take the Oscar. Joel and Ethan Coen, who presented the DGA award to Boyle, won the DGA and Oscar directing trophies last year for “No Country for Old Men.”
Earlier in the evening, Boyle had noted that “Slumdog Millionaire” could have wound up without a theatrical release last year. It had originally been set to be released by Warner Independent, which was shuttered last summer by Warner Bros., which then sold off the film to Fox Searchlight.
“I should start by curiously thanking Warner Bros. for actually having the grace to do the right thing — when I think it would have been a lot easier to do the wrong thing — and pass the film on to Fox Searchlight, who are an extraordinary bunch of people,” Boyle said.
The top DGA TV awards went to Paul Feig for the “Dinner Party” episode of NBC’s “The Office” for comedy series, and to Dan Attias for the “Transitions” segment of HBO’s “The Wire” for drama series. Jay Roach added another trophy to his collection, winning the TV movie category for HBO telepic “Recount” in the TV movie category.
“I’m going to have a heart attack,” a stunned Feig said from the stage. Attias noted that the recognition for “The Wire” seg in its final season was the first major industry award the much-praised HBO series has received.
Ari Folman’s animated “Waltz With Bashir” won the DGA’s documentary award. “Bashir,” which has been Oscar nominated for foreign-language film, follows an Israeli soldier’s experiences dealing with repressed memories of his involvement in the war with Lebanon.
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, who can no longer speak due to complications from thyroid cancer, received a standing ovation when honored with an honorary lifetime membership in the guild along with recorded testimonials from Steven Spielberg, Patty Jenkins, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone.
“I think it’s very brave of directors to give a critic an honorary membership,” Ebert said in a statement read by his wife. “The person responsible above all else for a film is the director.”
Tony Croll won the reality award for the CW’s “America’s Next Top Model.” Croll also won the first trophy in the category in 2004 for “Three Wishes.”
Jon Cryer subbed as the emcee for Carl Reiner, who took ill Friday from food poisoning. Reiner had served as host for 21 years.