Sir Sam Mendes’ 1917 boosts Oscars chances with Producers Guild Awards win

Sam Mendes; Netflix
Sir Sam Mendes

Sir Sam Mendes’ war epic 1917 received a boost in its quest for Oscars success after winning the top prize at the 31st Producers Guild Awards.

The British filmmaker’s audacious drama won the Darryl F Zanuck Award for outstanding producer of theatrical motion pictures during Saturday’s ceremony.

Taking to the stage, Sir Sam paid tribute to the “incredible efforts” of the cast and crew and said working on 1917 – which was filmed to look like one fluid shot – was “humbling and joyful and by far the best experience of my professional life”.

The film’s win at the PGAs bodes well ahead of next month’s Academy Awards.

Before the ceremony, 21 of the previous 30 winners of the PGAs’ top prize went on to be named best picture at the Oscars, making it one of the most accurate barometers ahead of the Academy Awards.

1917 has 10 Oscar nods, including for best picture, director and cinematography.

While the major awards shows tend to be televised, the PGAs were not, leading to a much rowdier atmosphere inside the historic Hollywood Palladium.

With no commercial breaks to enforce strict timings on acceptance speeches, winners were allowed to indulge in lengthy messages of thanks without the danger of being “played off” stage.

Brad Pitt was among those to swear on the winners’ podium.

The more relaxed atmosphere was perhaps to blame for a miscommunication early on in the ceremony.

The star-studded audience experienced an awkward wait for the producers of Leaving Neverland to take to the stage for an acceptance speech before it became clear they were not in the building.

Occasional bouts of earnestness did break out, however, with Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman calling for greater action against climate change and the hall falling silent for the In Memoriam section.

Winners in the TV categories included the producers of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s all-conquering Fleabag, which took home the outstanding comedy series prize while the drama gong went to HBO’s Succession.

Outstanding producer of a limited series was awarded to the makers of Chernobyl and outstanding producer of a streamed or televised motion picture was won by the makers of Apollo: Missions To The Moon.

In the honorary categories, Octavia Spencer received the visionary award.

Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, was honoured with the milestone award while Kauffman received the Norman Lear achievement award.

Pitt and his production partners at Plan B, DeDe Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, were given the David O Selznick award.

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