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1917 Schofield in the trenches

If you want to know who stands a good chance at winning big at the Oscars, the various guild awards that take place before that big night are usually good indicators as to what’s coming down the road. And 2020’s Oscar race just saw a huge boost given to director Sam Mendes’ 1917, as the film has won the Best Picture honors at last night’s Producers Guild of America Awards.

With last night’s ceremony honoring the best and brightest in film and television according to the Producers Guild of America, 1917 took top film honors in a field that’s almost identical to the one it’s currently battling against for the Academy Award for Best Picture. With the only difference being the addition of Rian Johnson’s Knives Out to the pack, the lineup matches that of 2020’s Oscar nominations for the prize of all prizes, which means that this particular picture just had a very successful round of batting practice.

Normally, this would put the picture, co-written by Sam Mendes and writer Krysty Wilson-Cairnes, into automatic frontrunner status. However, when discussing this big win for 1917, there’s a couple outliers that even out the playing field for this World War I epic. In recent history, two films have won the Producers Guild of America’s Best Picture trophy, but surprisingly went on to lose that very trophy at the Oscars.

Fans of La La Land and The Big Short are probably a little triggered at this moment, as both of those films got a rocket boost from winning big at the PGAs, only to be defeated when the big race came to its gigantic conclusion. And in the case of Damian Chazelle’s Oscar hopeful, that crushing defeat saw the wound salted a little more by the fact that for one moment in time, La La Land was erroneously announced as best picture.

Clerical errors on Oscar night aside, this latest victory, announced among the other winners by Gold Derby, is still seen as a promising sign for 1917’s Best Picture chances at the greatest showdown in the awards season rodeo. This is especially promising as it comes so quickly on the heels of the huge win it scored at the Golden Globe Awards. But there’s one more contest that the drama will have to compete in before the big show: next Sunday’s Directors Guild of America Awards.

The good news in this respect is that there’s only five nominated films in the DGA race for Best Picture, so the odds are automatically better in a mathematical perspective. However, when that field also includes Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, the pressure mounts pretty significantly.

It only gets worse when you take into account that the one film everyone seems to be tipping as a potential upset, writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, is the last nominee rounding out the Directors Guild of America’s class of honored 2019 releases. As that’s the narrative you’re going to be seeing play out over the next couple of weeks, the DGA awards could serve as either a resounding vote of confidence or a wise word of caution for those who are banking on 1917 to go all the way.

We’ll just have to wait and see how the Directors Guild of America Awards play out, as next Sunday night will be the judgement day for that particular field. Meanwhile, 1917 is in theaters now, in case you need to see it before filling out your Oscar pool for the year.

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