Danny Boyle has been named best director by the Directors Guild of America for his rags-to-riches romance "Slumdog Millionaire, cementing the movie's position as the Oscar front-runner.
The win put a positive end to a week of controversy for the film that tells of a young Indian boy raised in the slums of Mumbai who goes on to compete for a fortune on a TV talk show and, in the process, also tries to win the girl of his dreams.
Slumdog Millionaire has met with praise in the United States, but in India it has sparked some protests over its depiction of people who live in Indian slums.
This week, the film's makers also came under fire in a British newspaper report claiming they had not properly cared for or paid the children who play the slum dwellers. Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson said that report was inaccurate.
The Directors Guild of America honour is an indicator of which movie is the front-runner for the best picture Oscar, the world's top film award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In all but six of the award's 61 years, the guild winner has also won the best director Academy Award.