‘Beauty’ Pageant at DGA Awards

Has Oscar’s Best Director race already been decided? Don’t worry. We’re not talking about another Academy security breach here. We’re talking about Saturday night’s Director’s Guild of America awards where “American Beauty” helmer (and Oscar nominee) Sam Mendes took top feature honors.

Since the gala’s inception in 1949, only four DGA winners have not gone on to repeat on Oscar night.

“A year ago, I was not even a member of the DGA,” stage-vet Mendes told the black-tie audience at Los Angeles’ Century Plaza Hotel, “although I am now.”

With his victory, Mendes beat back fellow Best Director contenders Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich“), Michael Mann (“The Insider“) and M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense“). Frank Darabont, who wrote and directed the death-row drama “The Green Mile,” also was up for the DGA’s Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Feature Film prize, but he’s not up for the directing Oscar. In that race, the fifth slot is occupied by Lasse Hallstrom for “The Cider House Rules.”

Also on Saturday, two-time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg was presented with the guild’s lifetime achievement award — make that, the guild’s recently retitled lifetime achievement award. For the first time since the honor was handed out in 1953, it did not bear the name of landmark (but controversial) filmmaker D.W. Griffith (“Birth of a Nation“).