UPDATED WITH VIDEO: In one of the biggest surprises of tonight’s Golden Globes ceremony, 1917 helmer Sam Mendes won the award for Best Director of a Motion Picture. Parasite’s Bong Joon-ho was heavily favored to take home the statuette, following the film’s win for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language, such that even Mendes himself couldn’t hide his shock.
“Goodness, me. That is a big surprise. Thank you very much,” the director said. Accepting the award, Mendes couldn’t help but acknowledge one of the legendary auteurs he was competing against tonight. “There’s not one director in this room, not one director in the world, that is not in the shadow of Martin Scorsese,” he added. “I just have to say that.”
Also nominated tonight for Best Original Score – Motion Picture and Best Motion Picture-Drama, Mendes’ World War I drama centers on two young British soldiers who are given an impossible mission—to deliver a message deep in enemy territory, thereby saving 1600 lives. Conceived as a one-take film, the thriller was inspired by the experiences of Mendes’ grandfather, Alfred Hubert Mendes, to whom the director dedicated the award in his acceptance speech. “He signed up for the First World War, he was age 17. I hope he’s looking down on us,” Mendes said, “and I fervently hope that it never, ever happens again.”
Debuting on Christmas Day, 1917 has picked up major traction on the awards circuit since it began screening for critics and guild members in December. Nominated for eight Critics’ Choice Awards, the film has also been met with nominations from the Art Directors Guild, the National Board of Review and numerous critics’ groups. Last winning a Golden Globe in 2000 for American Beauty, Mendes was also nominated in 2009 for Revolutionary Road.
At tonight’s Golden Globes ceremony, the competition Mendes faced in the Best Director category was remarkably fierce. Along with Joon-Ho and Scorsese, other contenders in the race included Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) and Todd Phillips (Joker).
Winning his first and only Oscar for American Beauty, Mendes may well be heading back to the Dolby Theatre this season with his Universal Pictures title—contending once more with any number of tonight’s esteemed nominees.