Alfonso Cuaron scoops top Directors Guild prize

Alfred Cuaron and Ben Affleck Ben Affleck, last year's best director winner, (right), presented Cuaron with his award

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Gravity film-maker Alfonso Cuaron has picked up the top film honour from the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

The prestigious win for the space disaster drama could give Cuaron the edge at March's Academy Awards.

In the DGA's 65-year history, the winner has only failed to also pick up the best director Oscar seven times.

Accepting the award, Cuaron said: "What you cannot see from up there (in space) is this bizarre experiment of nature that is the human experience.

"That experiment is what directors try to sort out with our films. Thankfully, that experience is as diverse as the films as these film-makers make.''

Cuaron also thanked his son and Gravity co-writer Jonas Cuaron.

Bryan Cranston Bryan Cranston played the lead role in Breaking Bad

Cuaron's film saw off competition from Paul Greengrass's piracy film Captain Phillips, Steve McQueen's historical drama 12 Years a Slave, David O Russell's 1970s crime caper American Hustle and Martin Scorsese's black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street.

Other than the Writers' Guild Awards on 1 February, there are no more major US awards before the Oscars, which take place on 2 March. The UK's Bafta awards take place in London on 16 February.

Recent awards, including the Golden Globes and the Producers' Guild Awards, have seen a split in honours between Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle.

Gravity and American Hustle lead the Oscar nominations with 10 nods apiece. 12 Years A Slave has nine nominations.

Other DGA winners included Jehane Noujaim, who won the documentary prize for The Square, about the Egyptian uprising that began in 2011. The film was acquired by subscription service Netflix last year.

"I'm very humbled and very grateful,'' said Noujaim.

Jane Lynch Jane Lynch was the first woman to host the ceremony

"This film is the most deeply personal film I've made, watching my country change before me when I never thought change was possible. It redefined my understanding of what was possible."

Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra mirrored its Golden Globes success by winning the best TV movie or mini-series. The film stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon as flamboyant pianist Liberace and his partner Scott Thorson respectively.

Soderbergh, who was once a first vice-president of the Directors' Guild, was also honoured with the Robert B Aldrich Award for his services to the organisation.

"Sometimes you feel empty, and you're just overwhelmed and you look and see how willing your team is to carry you forward, and you get an extra burst of energy, and you keep going,'' he said.

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan won his first DGA award for the series finale of the hit drama.

Other winners included Beth McCarthy-Miller for 30 Rock (best comedy series) and Don Roy King for Saturday Night Live (best variety series).

The awards took place at the Hollywood and Highland complex in Los Angeles, hosted by Glee actress Jane Lynch - the first woman to present the ceremony.

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