Birdman director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu beat his Oscars rival Richard Linklater to the major prize at the Directors Guild awards at the weekend. Both filmmakers opted to remain in the U.S instead of travelling to London for the BAFTA's, where both Boyhood and Birdman won awards.

BirdmanMichael Keaton could win Best Actor for Birdman, but the film is now the favorite for Best Picture

At the DGA's, Inarritu fended off competition from Linklater, Clint Eastwood, Morten Tyldum and Wes Anderson to win the Feature Film prize for Birdman. The director told the audience at the Los Angeles' Century Plaza hotel that he was stunned by the victory.

More: read our full review of Birdman

"I never expected to be here tonight talking to you - never. I am openly humbled."

"All the films I have done before Birdman always left people with a powerful feeling of emptiness or sadness," he added backstage, "It was an emotional thing and I feel very strange and new and beautiful that people felt more cheerful. There is some happiness floating in the room after the film finished. I wasn't used to it."

More: Michael Keaton and Birdman have Oscars in sight

The DGA win for Birdman is certainly a good omen for the Oscars and the bookmakers now have Inarritu as the heavy favourite to win Best Director. The movie is now, for the first time, considered the most likely winner of Best Picture after bookmakers eased the odds on Boyhood to around even money. 

Asked about his Oscars preparations, Inarritu said: "You can't prepare. You just have to go there and have fun. And whatever happens, it's already decided. There's nothing to do. It is what it is. I'm very grateful but serene with no expectations."

More: Michael Keaton not jealous of Ben Affleck, "Because I'm Batman"