Directors Guild Picks Sam Mendes, Handing ‘1917’ Another Big Win

The filmmaker behind the World War I drama beat out Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese for a prize that’s considered a precursor to the Oscars.

Credit...Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

The Oscars won’t be held for another two weeks, but it looks increasingly likely that “1917” has won the war for best picture.
The World War I drama picked up yet another major prize Saturday night in Los Angeles when the Directors Guild of America gave Sam Mendes its top prize for direction of a feature film. Shot and stitched together to appear as though it were filmed in just two long takes, the technically audacious “1917” has come on strong this month, also claiming top honors from the Producers Guild of America as well as the drama and director trophies at the Golden Globes.
Culled from The New York Times, Mendes faced strong competition for the DGA Award, edging out Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”), Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”), Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”) and Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”).
Do any of those films still stand a chance against “1917” at the Academy Awards? Yes, though it’s a slim one. Only twice over the last decade has a film won the best-picture Oscar without first taking either the DGA or PGA prizes: In 2015, when the Oscars favored “Spotlight” over the DGA winner “The Revenant” and PGA winner “The Big Short,” and in 2016, when “La La Land” won both major guild prizes but still fell to “Moonlight” at the Oscars.
The strongest best-picture spoiler is likely “Parasite,” the South Korean thriller that prevailed at the Screen Actors Guild Awards this month and could become the first film not in the English language to win the top Oscar. Still, with the momentum of the PGA and DGA prizes, “1917” will be tough to beat.
In other news at the directors’ ceremony on Saturday, the trophy for the best first-time filmmaker went to Alma Har’el for “Honey Boy.” It was the first time a woman had won in the category since it was established five years ago.