Director Michel Hazanavicius won the best director title at the annual Directors Guild Awards beating names like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese.
The Frenchman was barely known in Hollywood prior to the success of his silent era movie 'The Artist', which has dominated this year's awards season. "It's maybe the highest recognition I could hope for," the BBC quoted him as saying.
Hazanavicius emerged victorious from a field of heavyweights which also included David Fincher for 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' and Alexander Payne for 'The Descendants'.
The award puts the 44-year-old in pole position to win the Oscar in February. The Directors Guild of America awards are seen as a key indicator of Oscar success. Only six times in the 63-year history of the guild awards has the winner failed to go on to win the Oscar for best director.