James Cameron previously won the award in 1998
James Cameron has been named as one of the five nominees in the running for this year's Directors Guild of America (DGA) award.
The Avatar director will battle it out against his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker and Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds.
Precious director Lee Daniels and Up in the Air's Jason Reitman are also up for the accolade.
Cameron won the guild's prize in 1998 for his Oscar-winning epic Titanic.
While Tarantino was previously been nominated for 1994's Pulp Fiction, it is the first time Bigelow, Daniels and Reitman have been recognised.
The recipient of the DGA's main prize - which represents US makers of film and television shows - is often an indicator of Oscar success.
Only six times since the DGA awards began in 1948 has the feature film winner not gone on to collect the equivalent Academy Award.
British Oscar-winner Danny Boyle picked up the guild's award last year for Slumdog Millionaire.
"The DGA Award is especially meaningful to directors because it is decided solely by their peers - the men and women who have been in the same trenches and know exactly what goes into the crafting of a unique motion picture," said DGA president Taylor Hackford.
"The five nominees for this year have each expressed an indelible vision that transported audiences to vivid vistas of cinematic art."
The awards, which also include prizes for television, documentary and commercial directors, will be presented on 30 January at a ceremony in Los Angeles.
Director Norman Jewison, whose films include In the Heat of the Night, A Soldier's Story and Moonstruck, will receive the guild's lifetime-achievement award.