Actor-turned-director Sean Penn is in the running to be named director of 2007 by the Directors Guild of America.
It is Sean Penn's first DGA feature film award nomination
The guild has nominated Penn for his wilderness adventure Into the Wild.
The feature film nominees also include Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men and Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood.
The DGA represents TV and film directors and its awards are a key indicator to Oscar contenders. The winner will be named on 26 January.
The shortlist is completed by Tony Gilroy, who made his directorial debut with legal thriller Michael Clayton, and painter-turned director Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
"What makes this award truly meaningful to directors is the knowledge that only this one is decided by their peers," said Directors Guild president Michael Apted.
Since the DGA began giving awards for film directing in 1949, only six winners have failed to go on to claim the Oscar as best director in the same year.