Bradley Cooper attends the Warner Bros premiere of 'War Dogs' in Hollywood, California, on August 15, 2016. (AFP/Valerie Macon)
First-time director Bradley Cooper and Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron on Tuesday topped the list of nominees for the Directors Guild of America (DGA) award -- a strong indicator of Oscar hopes.
Cooper was nominated for the popular music romance reboot A Star Is Born -- the story of an aging rocker (Cooper himself) who discovers a struggling singer-songwriter (Lady Gaga) and propels her to stardom.
But Cuaron will be a tough competitor, after winning best director honors at the Golden Globes for Roma, his ode to his own childhood in 1970s Mexico City. It is his second DGA nomination after winning for Gravity.
Both Star and Roma are seen as top contenders for Academy Awards glory on February 24.
At the Globes on Sunday, Roma also scooped up the award for best foreign language film, while Star was largely shut out, only winning for best original song.
Rounding out the DGA field for outstanding achievement in feature film directing are the veteran Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman, Peter Farrelly for Green Book and Adam McKay for Dick Cheney biopic Vice.
"Each of these directors has demonstrated an exceptional command of the medium, creating excellence for the screen," said DGA president Thomas Schlamme in announcing the nominees.
The DGA awards are to be handed out on February 2. The DGA short list is considered a Oscars bellwether.
Last year's DGA winner, Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), went on to win the same prize at the Oscars and the film took best picture honors.
The Academy Award nominations will be announced on January 22.