The Directors Guild of America has announced  for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2011.

The list of nominees includes several expected names, including Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Alexander Payne (The Descendants) and Martin Scorsese (Hugo), as well as some surprises, such as Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris) and David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Their nominations have tightened up the race to the Oscars. The only director being recognized for the first time is Michel Hazanavicius, whereas the other filmmakers are all veterans, having either been nominated or winners in previous years.

The surprising omission includes Steven Spielberg, who was snubbed for his directorial efforts in War Horse. Terrence Malick, who has been overlooked all year for his breathtaking film, The Tree of Life, was also left unacknowledged, lessening his chances for future ceremonies.

The DGA awards are a good indicator of who will go on to win the Best Director Oscar. There have only been six instances since its inception in 1948 when a winner of the DGA award hasn’t also won the corresponding Best Director Oscar.

The winner will be awarded at the 64th Annual DGA Awards Dinner on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at the Grand Ballroom at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.