Filmmaker Ang Lee has been honoured by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) for his film Brokeback Mountain.
Ang Lee has already won 10 awards for Brokeback Mountain
The Taiwanese director is now favourite to win an Oscar for his film about the love that develops between two cowboys.
He beat George Clooney for Good Night, and Good Luck, Paul Haggis for Crash, Bennett Miller for Capote and Steven Spielberg for Munich.
In 51 of the past 57 years, the guild has honoured directors who have gone on to win the Oscar.
But Lee was one of the exceptions - winning the DGA Award in 2001 for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but losing out on Oscar night to Steven Soderbergh for Traffic.
Lee said the guild prize was particularly meaningful because it was decided by fellow directors.
"This is like winning at home. This is professional approval," he said.
Ledger and Gyllenhaal are up for Screen Actors Guild awards
Veteran director Clint Eastwood - who won the DGA and best director Oscar for Million Dollar Baby last year - was presented with the guild's lifetime achievement award at the ceremony on Saturday.
Past recipients of the special award include Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock.
Brokeback Mountain, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, has already won four Golden Globe Awards, and the top prize from the Producers Guild of America (PGA).
The PGA winner usually goes on to take the best picture Oscar.
The film is also nominated for four prizes at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which take place on Sunday night.
Oscar nominations will be revealed on Tuesday, with the winners announced during the 78th annual Academy Awards on 5 March.