02/03/2013 AT 3:00 PM ET
It was a celebratory evening for Affleck – and it was also date night with his doting wife, Jennifer Garner, by his side (and often with her hand on his back).
“I have to just thank my wife for being the best person in the world. I love you,” Affleck, 40, told the audience as he accepted the award for outstanding directorial achievement for Argo. “I don’t need to look at the teleprompter to know why I want to thank you. I want to thank you because I love you.”
He added: “I want our daughters to break boundaries.”
He also tipped his hat to fellow nominee Steven Spielberg, telling the Lincoln director, “Steven, there is nothing to even say about a guy whose got 11 of these … This is the guy whose face is in Wikipedia when you type in director.”
That wasn’t Spielberg’s only shout-out of the night. As Girls mastermind Lena Dunham, also a first-time winner, accepted honors for television comedy directing, she playfully warned, “Steven Spielberg, I am coming for you. Ben Affleck, I already came for you.”
Not that Affleck considers himself a tried-and-true director.
“I worked really, really hard to try to become the best director that I could be,” he said. “I don’t think that this makes me a real director, but I think it means I’m on my way.”