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Sofia, Clint Lead Director Nominations

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The Directors Guild of America announced its five nominees for the union’s 56th annual award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement on Tuesday, yet another sign that the Oscar nominations are just around the corner. (Those babies get named Jan. 27.)

And the DGA nominees are: Sofia Coppola, for “Lost in Translation”; Clint Eastwood, for “Mystic River” (he previously won for 1992’s “Unforgiven”); Peter Jackson, for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (his third consecutive nomination for the trilogy); Gary Ross, for “Seabiscuit”; and Peter Weir, for “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”

The most notable snub? Director Anthony Minghella, whose Civil War romance “Cold Mountain” led the Golden Globe nominations with eight (including a best director nod), but is nowhere to be found on the DGA’s list.

The winner will be announced at a gala dinner Feb. 7 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. (The Oscars, meanwhile, will be handed out Feb. 29.)

Until recently, the DGA winner, with very few exceptions, went on to take the Oscar home, though that pattern has been broken recently.

As the DGA acknowledges on its Web site, the DGA winner matched the Oscar winner all but six times since 1949. The first exception came in 1968, when Anthony Harvey took home Guild honors for “The Lion in Winter,” while Carol Reed won the Oscar for “Oliver!”

In 1972, Sofia Coppola’s father, Francis Ford Coppola, won the DGA for “The Godfather,” while Bob Fosse won the Oscar for “Cabaret.” In 1985, Steven Spielberg won the DGA for “The Color Purple,” while the Oscar went to Sydney Pollack for “Out of Africa.” Ten years later, Ron Howard won the DGA for “Apollo 13,” while Mel Gibson won the Oscar for “Braveheart.” In 2000, Ang Lee won the DGA for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” while Steven Soderbergh won the Oscar for “Traffic.”

And lest anyone forget, last year Rob Marshall won the DGA for “Chicago,” while the Oscar went to Roman Polanski for “The Pianist.”

Still, the Directors Guild nominations usually match the Academy’s contenders for Best Director.