Sandra Bullock stars as an engineer lost in space in Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity." Warner Bros

UPDATED, 6 a.m.

Alfonso Cuarón, director of "Gravity," won the prestigious Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award in Los Angeles late Saturday night. Cuarón, who was heavily favored to win, beat the directors Steve McQueen and David O. Russell, of "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle," respectively. The two other directors who had been nominated for the DGA were Martin Scorsese for "The Wolf of Wall Street" and Paul Greengrass for "Captain Phillips."

The winner of the DGA usually goes on to win the Academy Award, which is handed out March 2. Only seven times in the 65-year history of the DGA has the winner not gone on to win the Oscar, notes hollywoodreporter.com. Cuarón is heavily favored to win the DGA for his technical achievement in directing the space movie. Last year, Ben Affleck won the DGA Award, and in a shock, was not nominated for an Oscar. Ang Lee went on to win the Oscar for "Life of Pi."

Affleck presented Cuarón his DGA Award. "This is truly an honor and I am humbled by it,” the Mexican director said to the audience of his peers. “Directing is about the work of your collaborators,” he said. Earlier in the evening, when his film was spotlighted amongst the five Feature Film nominees, Cuarón thanked his team including his first assistant director Josh Robertson, co-writer (and son) Jonas Cuarón, his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and his visual effects team. Then he said: “I barely understand how we made the film.” The audience laughed uproariously.

Cuaron must be heavily favored to win the Oscar for Best Director now. This year, Cuarón, McQueen, Russell and Scorsese have Oscar nods but not Greengrass. Alexander Payne received the fifth Oscar slot for directing "Nebraska."

While the odds are on Cuarón winning at the Oscars for Best Director, the race for Best Picture is considered to be an extremely tight three-way race between "Gravity," "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle."

David O. Russell is regarded as an actors' director, with four of his actors nominated for Academy Awards this year: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The cast of "American Hustle" won the ensemble award at the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards. "American Hustle" is also nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, as were all the other DGA nominees.

Both "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" tied for Best Picture at the PGA (Producers Guild of America). "12 Years a Slave" won at the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice awards. It has three actors nominated at the Oscars (Chewitel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o). Meanwhile, "Gravity" may have the support of many of the voters in the special-effects categories.