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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 January, 2005, 12:45 GMT
Eastwood wins top director award
Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
Eastwood directs and stars in Million Dollar Baby
Clint Eastwood has won the prestigious Directors Guild of America (DGA) award for his bittersweet female boxing drama Million Dollar Baby.

He saw off competition from the likes of Martin Scorsese, who was shortlisted for The Aviator.

Taylor Hackford's Ray, Sideways by Alexander Payne and Marc Forster's Finding Neverland were also nominated.

A DGA win is seen as an indicator for Oscar success, with 50 out of 56 winners taking the Academy Award.

Eastwood, 74, won a DGA award for his 1992 western Unforgiven, for which he went on to win an Oscar.

'Pleased as punch'

The actor and director collected his DGA statuette for Million Dollar Baby from film-maker Steven Spielberg.

Speaking after Saturday night's ceremony in Los Angeles, Eastwood said the win had come as a surprise.

"I've got to say, this is a real pleasure. I am as pleased a punch."

Earlier in the evening, veteran director Martin Scorsese had received a standing ovation from the Directors Guild audience.

Clint Eastwood
Eastwood, 74, has enjoyed more than 40 years in Hollywood

Scorsese's DGA nomination for his biography of billionaire Howard Hughes was the sixth of his career.

He has yet to win, despite nominations for classics such as Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980).

However, Scorsese was given a lifetime achievement award from the Guild in 2003.

Run-up to Oscars

The DGA Awards are one of a handful of industry awards which are seen as a barometer of how Academy Award members may vote in the Oscars on 27 February.

The Aviator was named Best Picture last week by the Producers Guild, meaning that Scorsese and Eastwood look set to battle it out for the top awards at the Oscars.

The Aviator has notched up 11 Oscar nominations, the most of any film this year. Million Dollar Baby received seven - the same number as Finding Neverland, the film about the life of Peter Pan writer JM Barrie.




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