Ben Affleck has won the top award of the Directors Guild of America for his film "Argo" on the Iran hostage crisis.
The Hollywood directors' award is seen as greatly increasing the chances of Affleck's film winning the Oscar for Best Picture.
Directors who win their peers' prize usually also win the Oscar for Best Director, but the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences has failed to nominate Affleck for an Oscar in that category.
"Argo," in which Affleck also stars as a CIA operative trying to save six Americans in revolutionary Iran after the storming of the U.S. embassy, has already won all the major movie awards since the Oscar nominations.
The Oscars' award ceremony will be held on February 24.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa