Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal present Ang Lee the group's top prize

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 29, 2006 08:00 PM

The cowboy romance Brokeback Mountain on Saturday night did what it has been doing a lot of lately – winning the top prize.

This time, the Directors Guild of America named its Taiwanese-born filmmaker, Ang Lee, its director of the year for his work on the drama, which stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Lee won over high-profile moviemakers George Clooney (for Good Night, and Good Luck) and Steven Spielberg (for Munich), as well as up-and-comers Paul Haggis (for Crash) and Bennett Miller (for Capote).

“Ang Lee is fierce in his timidity, his humbleness and his respect for everyone around him,” presenter Gyllenhaal said at the DGA ceremony in Los Angeles. “He’s frustrating and so damn wise.”

Equally effusive, Ledger thanked Lee for “introducing us to these delicate characters. … It took a delicate man to tell this story, and that’s you,” reports the Associated Press.

Quipped Lee, 51, in response: “I don’t know about you, but that feels a little gay to me.”

The victory was more good news for the movie, which has already picked up the Golden Globe for best picture and was similarly honored by the Producers Guild, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, among others.

In terms of portending the Academy Awards, the DGA Award winner and the Oscar winner for director have matched in 51 of the past 57 years, including last year, when Clint Eastwood took home both trophies for “Million Dollar Baby.” This year, the DGA presented Eastwood with its lifetime achievement award.