Del Toro wins top DGA prize for 'The Shape of Water'

LOS ANGELES - Guillermo del Toro's bid for Oscars glory was boosted Sunday as he took top prize at the Directors Guild of America honors - a key predictor for the Academy Awards.

The Mexican filmmaker was crowned best director for his Cold War-era fantasy romance "The Shape of Water," a month ahead of the glittering culmination of Hollywood's annual awards season.

The 53-year-old has already scooped a Golden Globe for directing the movie, starring Sally Hawkins as a janitor in a top secret government laboratory who falls in love with a mysterious merman-like sea creature.

A feature of speeches during the awards season has been defiant rejection of the culture of sexual harassment and gender inequality, and the DGAs were no different.

"What Harvey Weinstein ruined was robes. If I wear one now, my wife says 'ewww,'" quipped host Judd Apatow - a reference to the mogul's habit of appearing before young actresses in his hotel room wearing only a bathrobe.

Comedian Amy Schumer said she was "so grateful and proud" of victims of sexual abuse who had spoken out.

Presenters at Sunday's star-studded event for 1,600 guests included Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Kevin Bacon, Allison Janney and Damien Chazelle, who won the top prize at the last ceremony.

The other nominees for best director were Greta Gerwig for coming-of-age story "Lady Bird," Martin McDonagh for dark crime comedy "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," and Jordan Peele for racial satire "Get Out." - AFP