B *en Affleck *has won the top film honour from the Directors Guild of America for his CIA thriller Argo, further sealing its status as best-picture front-runner at the Academy Awards.
Saturday's prize also normally would make Affleck a near shoo-in to win best director at the February 24 Oscars, since the Directors Guild recipient nearly always goes on to claim the same prize at Hollywood's biggest night.
But Affleck surprisingly missed out on an Oscar directing nomination, along with several other key favourites, including fellow Directors Guild contenders *Kathryn Bigelow *for Zero Dark Thirty and *Tom Hooper *for Les Miserables.
Affleck's Oscar snub has not hurt Argo and may even have earned it some favour among awards voters as an underdog favourite.
Argo has dominated other awards, including the Golden Globes, since the Oscar nominations.