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Sunday, 12 March, 2000, 10:58 GMT
Mendes has beautiful night
Mendes
Mendes and star Bening score another win
American Beauty director Sam Mendes has won the top honour from the Directors' Guild of America.

Mendes was named best director for his first feature film, improving his chances of taking home an Oscar for his dark satire of suburban family strife.

Only four guild winners have failed to go on to win Oscars for best director and best picture since the directors' group began giving its prize in 1949.

spielberg
Spielberg and his wife share the limelight
The award was presented by last year's guild winner, director Steven Spielberg, who himself received a lifetime achievement award.

Praise for Spielberg

Accepting the award, Mendes cited directors who had influenced him, including Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder and Clint Eastwood.

He singled out Spielberg for special praise, thanking him and the DreamWorks studio for giving him the American Beauty script.

"The first time I met Steven, he gave me the script for America Beauty and the last two times he has given me awards. I only hope you stay in my life for a long time," Mendes said.

Diaz and Keener
Diaz and Keener: Star-studded ceremony
"Thank you to the studio for giving a bloke from England a movie about the American suburbs and letting me make the movie I wanted to make."

American Beauty stars Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening as a couple whose dysfunctional relationship erupts in violence.

This latest award firms up the film's position as the front-runner for the Oscars on 26 March. American Beauty leads all films with eight Oscar nominations.

"I'd love to win an Oscar for the movie," said Mendes. "But this is an award in its own right because it comes from directors."

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See also:

03 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Beauty outshines the Bard
01 Mar 00 | Entertainment
American Beauty tops Bafta shortlist
22 Mar 99 | The Oscars 1999
Oscars glory for Brits
15 Feb 00 | Entertainment
American Beauty leads Oscars field
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