By John Horn and Steven Zeitchik
9:46 PM CST, January 13, 2013
In a surprise defeat for Steven Spielberg and "Lincoln," Ben Affleck won the Golden Globe for directing "Argo."
A clearly stunned Affleck, who earlier this week was noticeably not shortlisted for the directing Oscar, said he didn't care what the award was -- he was honored to have been nominated alongside the "exceptional talents" of Spielberg, Ang Lee ("Life of Pi"), Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained"), Tom Hooper ("Les Miserables") and Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty").
Affleck's win could derail Spielberg’s status as a front-runner for the director prize when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hands out the Oscars next month.
Last year, Michel Hazanavicius won best director at the Golden Globes for "The Artist." Hazanavicius went on to win the directing prize at the Academy Awards.
Though its members hail from around the world, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has shown a penchant for awarding directing prizes to movies about fraught periods of American history. The group handed the honor to Martin Scorsese in 2003 for his bloody Irish mob saga “Gangs of New York” and to Oliver Stone in 1992 for his Kennedy assassination drama “JFK”; neither was so honored by the academy.
The director prize is considered by many a more exclusive filmmaking honor at the Globes than that of best picture since the category contains just five nominees, while best picture is split into two prizes -- drama and comedy/musical.
The Globes and Oscars tend to have a large number of the same nominees in the director category but this year shared only two, the lowest number since the 2007-2008 season.