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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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DGA honors Bigelow, Cameron, Daniels, Reitman, Tarantino

AP -- The science-fiction blockbuster "Avatar" has earned James Cameron his latest nomination for the top honor from the Directors Guild of America. Cameron won the guild prize 12 years ago for "Titanic." Also nominated are Kathryn Bigelow for the Iraq War drama "The Hurt Locker," Lee Daniels for the Harlem teen tale "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire," Jason Reitman for the recession-era story "Up in the Air" and Quentin Tarantino for the World War II hit "Inglourious Basterds."

Like the Golden Globes on Jan. 17, the awards put Cameron up against ex-wife Bigelow, a first-time Directors Guild nominee.

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Daniels and Reitman also earned their first guild film nominations, while Tarantino previously was nominated for 1994's "Pulp Fiction."

Directors Guild picks usually are a good reflection of how the category will shake out at the Academy Awards. The winner at the guild awards usually goes on to win the directing Oscar, as Cameron did for "Titanic" and last year's guild winner, Danny Boyle, did for "Slumdog Millionaire."

The guild announces TV, documentary and commercial nominations Friday. Awards will be presented at a banquet Jan. 30 in Los Angeles, three days before Oscar nominations come out.

If the Oscar nominees match the guild picks, it would be one of the most diverse lineups ever in the directing category, which usually consists of five white men.

Daniels would follow John Singleton ("Boyz N the Hood") as only the second black filmmaker nominated for best director. Bigelow would be only the fourth woman nominated for director, following Lina Wertmuller ("Seven Beauties"), Jane Campion ("The Piano") and Sofia Coppola ("Lost in Translation").

Director Norman Jewison, whose films include "In the Heat of the Night," "A Soldier's Story" and "Moonstruck," will receive the guild's lifetime-achievement award.

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