The Directors Guild of America named the five nominees Thursday for its feature film award, an honor that has tended to predict the eventual Oscar winner.
Three of the nominees were first-timers: George Clooney for "Good Night, and Good Luck," Paul Haggis for "Crash" and Bennett Miller for "Capote."
The other two have been here before: Ang Lee received his third nomination for "Brokeback Mountain," while Steven Spielberg's nom for "Munich" was his 10th. Spielberg has won this award three previous times, Lee once.
The DGA Award for outstanding directorial achievement has been the same as the best director Academy Award in 51 of the past 57 years, including three of the four past years. Last year, both the DGA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences both picked Clint Eastwood for "Million Dollar Baby."
"Obviously this distinction makes this nomination special," DGA fifth vp Betty Thomas said in announcing the nominees at the guild's Los Angeles headquarters. "But what makes this award truly meaningful to directors is the knowledge that only this award is decided solely by their peers -- men and women who innately know the passion and energy that go into each production."
The winner will be announced at the 58th annual DGA Awards dinner Jan. 28 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
The nominations also recognized the directorial teams behind each film.
Clooney's team on "Good Night, and Good Luck" (Warner Independent Pictures) included unit production manager Barbara Hall, first assistant director David Webb, second assistant director Melissa Barnes and second second assistant director Richard Gonzalez.
On "Crash" (LionsGate Films), Haggis worked with unit production manager Betsy Danbury, first assistant director Scott Cameron and second assistant director Simone Farber.
Lee's team on "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) included unit production managers Scott Ferguson and Tom Benz, first assistant directors Michael Hausman and Pierre Tremblay, second assistant director Donald Murphy and second second assistant director Brad Moerke.
Lee last won the DGA Award in 2000 for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
For "Capote" (United Artists/Sony Pictures Classics), Miller worked with unit production managers Ellen Rutter and Caroline Baron, first assistant directors Ronaldo Nacionales and Richard Moran and second assistant director Charles Crossin.
Spielberg's team on "Munich" (Universal Pictures) was unit production manager Ian Hickinbotham, first assistant director Adam Somner and second second assistant director Pierre Ellul.
Spielberg has previously won the award in 1998 for "Saving Private Ryan," in 1993 for "Schindler's List," and in 1985 for "The Color Purple."
Clint Eastwood is also set to receive the DGA's highest tribute, the Lifetime Achievement Award, at this year's show. First presented in 1953, it has only been awarded 31 times, mostly recently to Mike Nichols in 2004.
Jesse Hiestand writes for The Hollywood Reporter.
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