Sam Mendes wins Golden Globe for best director for war epic ‘1917’

Sam Mendes accepts the award for Best Director for ‘1917’ at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 5, 2020. — Paul Drinkwater/NBC Universal/Handout via Reuters
Sam Mendes accepts the award for Best Director for ‘1917’ at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 5, 2020. — Paul Drinkwater/NBC Universal/Handout via Reuters

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LOS ANGELES, Jan 6 — British filmmaker Sam Mendes today secured a shock best director win for war epic 1917 at the Golden Globes, which kicked off with a no-holds-barred monologue by host Ricky Gervais that shocked Hollywood’s A-listers.

Stars arriving under bright California skies in couture gowns and extravagant jewels were greeted by the British comic’s signature cutting one-liners at the awards ceremony, the first of the year building up to next month’s Oscars.

“Let’s go out with a bang, let’s have a laugh at your expense, shall we?” joked Gervais, hosting the awards for the fifth and final time, before tearing into the industry.

Mendes defeated Hollywood heavyweights Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, as well as South Korean auteur filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, in the crowded best director category.

“Goodness me, that is a big surprise,” said a stunned Mendes.

“Can I just say there’s not one director in this room, not one director in the world that is not in the shadow of Martin Scorsese? I just have to say that,” he added to loud applause.

1917 follows two British soldiers through the trenches in World War I, and is filmed to look like one continuous, two-hour-long shot.

However, Tarantino won the best screenplay gong and Brad Pitt took home best supporting actor honours for Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.

The homage to 1960s Tinseltown resonated with the 90-odd members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which doles out the prizes.

Wins at the Globes help build key momentum for the Oscars. In 2019, the HFPA correctly picked the Oscar winner in every film category except for best musical score.

Oscar nominations voting is already under way, but does not close until tomorrow.

Elton John’s I’m Gonna Love Me Again won best original song for Rocketman, a musical biopic about the legendary British musician’s life, and Taron Egerton won best musical/comedy actor for his starring role.

“It was one of the most emotional moments of my life to win this, the first time I’ve ever won an award with him,” said John, referring to long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin.

“It’s a relationship that doesn’t happen very much in this town — it’s a 52-year-old marriage,” added Taupin.

South Korean black comedy Parasite bagged the award for best foreign language film, as widely expected, while Tom Hanks welled up thanking his family as he accepted a lifetime achievement award.

‘Succession’, ‘Fleabag’ win TV honours

In his opening speech, Gervais tackled topics haunting the entertainment sector including #MeToo, lack of diversity, and the streaming wars, to name but a few.

An off-colour joke about British actress Judi Dench and the critically slammed film Cats was bleeped out by censors.

Beyonce and husband Jay-Z were in attendance to watch a starry list of award presenters including Pitt, his co-star Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers).

Among the Globes handed out on the TV side, HBO hit Succession won best drama, fending off Netflix’s flagship The Crown. Its star Brian Cox won for best actor.

But Crown star Olivia Colman scooped best actress for her turn as Queen Elizabeth II.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge added a best comedy actress Globe to her Emmy win for her show Fleabag, which also won overall top comedy honours.

Netflix’s night?

Netflix — which has disrupted the film industry in recent years — began the night far ahead of the traditional Hollywood studios with 17 Globe movie nominations.

It has multiple frontrunners to scoop the night’s most prestigious film prize, best drama — including Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes.

Warner Bros dark comic tale Joker and 1917 round out the category.

Streaming giant Netflix only began producing original movies in 2015, but has spent billions to lure the industry’s top filmmaking talent — and to fund lavish awards season campaigns.

“This show should just be me coming out, (saying) ‘You win everything, Netflix, good night,” joked Gervais.

The streamer picked up an early win with Laura Dern’s supporting turn in Marriage Story, a heart-wrenching divorce saga starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.

Netflix also has Eddie Murphy’s comeback vehicle Dolemite Is My Name in the best comedy or musical race — unlike the Oscars, Globes organisers split films into two categories.

In the drama acting categories, Joaquin Phoenix is favourite in a crowded field for his radical portrayal of the villainous anti-hero in Joker.

But Driver’s intense turn in Marriage Story has generated significant buzz, while the ever-popular Antonio Banderas has been hailed for a career-best performance in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory.

Renee Zellweger looks in a formidable position to pick up the best actress gong with Judy Garland biopic Judy. — AFP

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