Sam Mendes scores top prize at Directors Guild of America Awards

Sam Mendes is now the one to beat in the Best Director category at the Oscars.

Sam Mendes cemented his status as Oscars frontrunner by taking home the top prize at the 2020 Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards on Saturday for his war epic 1917.

The filmmaker's latest movie beat Bong Joon Ho's Parasite, Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit, and Martin Scorsese's The Irishman to win the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film award.

His victory comes hot off his success at the Producers Guild Awards (PGA) last weekend, meaning he has now secured his status as the one to beat for the Best Director prize at the Academy Awards on 9 February. The last six winners of the main DGA prize have gone on to win the Oscar.

Accepting the DGA honour, Mendes thanked his late grandfather, whose wartime stories inspired the film, and dedicated his win to his young daughter Phoebe.

"My grandfather inspired this film, and he made me when I was 12 sign a contract promising I would write a novel by the age of 18," he said. "Obviously, I'm not a freak, so I didn't do that, but I did do this."

According to Deadline, Mendes told reporters backstage the win meant a lot to him.

"It's voted for by people who know exactly what I do and that makes a huge difference. For me the whole event was moving," the 54-year-old commented.

Other DGA winners included Alma Har'el, who won the Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director award for Honey Boy, and Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, who were also honoured for their Netflix documentary movie, American Factory.

In the TV categories, Bill Hader took home the Comedy Series prize for Barry, Johan Renck was recognised for Chernobyl in the TV Movie/Limited Series category, and Nicole Kassell won for her episode of Watchmen in Dramatic Series.

Mendes previously won the DGA honour in 1999 for American Beauty.

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