Steven Spielberg has extended his domination at the Directors Guild of America Awards, earning a nomination for his Civil War epic Lincoln to pad the record he already held to 11 film nominations from the guild.
Also nominated were past winners Kathryn Bigelow for her Osama bin Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty; Tom Hooper for his musical Les Miserables; and Ang Lee for his lost-at-sea story Life of Pi.
Rounding out the Directors Guild line-up is first-time nominee Ben Affleck for his Iran hostage-crisis tale Argo.
"The privilege of making Lincoln, combined with this absolutely tremendous recognition from my peers, is humbling," Spielberg said in a statement. "I thank everyone for including me on this short list of extremely unique and gifted filmmakers."
The Directors Guild field is one of Hollywood's most-accurate forecasts for who will be in the running at the Academy Awards, whose nominations come out on Thursday (Friday NZ time).
The winner at the Directors Guild almost always goes on to win the directing prize at the Oscars, too. Only six times in the 64-year history of the guild awards has the winner there failed to follow up with an Oscar.
Besides the record number of feature-film nominations, Spielberg also has won the Directors Guild prize a record three times, for The Color Purple, Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, along with directing Oscars for the latter two. He received the guild's lifetime-achievement award in 2000.
Bigelow became the first woman ever to win the guild honor and the directing Oscar three years ago for The Hurt Locker. Hooper won the same prizes a year later for The King's Speech, while Lee is a two-time guild winner for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, the latter also earning him the directing Oscar.
Affleck, who also stars in Argo, follows such actors-turned-filmmakers as Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson to earn a Directors Guild nomination.
Overlooked by the guild were past nominees Quentin Tarantino for his slave-revenge tale Django Unchained and David O. Russell for his oddball romance Silver Linings Playbook.
The film that receives the Directing Guild prize typically also goes on to win the best-picture Oscar, a prize Spielberg has earned only once, for Schindler's List. No clear front-runner has emerged yet for the February 24 Oscars, with Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Les Miserables all considered strong prospects to take home Hollywood's highest honour.
Sunday's Golden Globes will help sort out the Oscar picture, as will the various guild prizes that will be handed out in late January and February on the run-up to the Academy Awards.
Winners for the 65th annual Directors Guild awards will be announced at a Hollywood dinner February 2, with Kelsey Grammer as host for the second year in a row.
Milos Forman, a two-time Directors Guild winner for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, will receive the group's lifetime-achievement award.