Hugo filmmaker Martin Scorsese and Midnight In Paris creator Woody Allen are among the nominees for top filmmaking honours from the Directors Guild of America.
Also nominated for the 64th annual Directors Guild honours are David Fincher for the thriller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Michel Hazanavicius for the silent film The Artist and Alexander Payne for the family drama The Descendants.
The only first-time contender among the nominees, French filmmaker Hazanavicius could emerge as a front-runner for The Artist, his black-and-white throwback to early Hollywood that has been a favourite at earlier Hollywood honours.
Scorsese now has nine Directors Guild nominations and is a past feature-film winner for 2006's The Departed, as well as a TV drama winner a year ago for an episode of Boardwalk Empire. The family film Hugo was a departure for Scorsese, known for dark crime tales, and the movie was also his first shot in 3D.
Allen has been nominated five times and won for 1977's Annie Hall. He had not been nominated since his 1989 Crimes And Misdemeanours but has been on a critical and commercial resurgence for the romantic fantasy Midnight In Paris, his biggest hit in decades.
Missing out on a nomination was three-time Directors Guild winner Steven Spielberg for War Horse. Also left out was Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, an epic family drama that won top honours at the Cannes Film Festival.
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 January 24. Last year, Tom Hooper won at both the Directors Guild and the Oscars for The King's Speech.
The guild will announce its winners at a January 28 dinner, with Kelsey Grammer as host.