Golden Globes: Sam Mendes' '1917' Wins Best Motion Picture, Drama

Sam Mendes' war epic beat out Martin Scorsese's 'The Irishman,' which would have given Netflix its first-ever best picture trophy.

Sam Mendes' 1917 won the best picture, drama trophy at the Golden Globes on Sunday. The Universal war epic stole the show at the 77th annual awards show, beating out Martin Scorsese's The Irishman in the final category and earning the night's directing honor for Mendes. 

"This is a huge, huge thing for this movie," said Mendes during his acceptance speech. "It opens in a week wide. It's difficult to make movies without big movie stars in the leads and get people to come and see it in a cinema, and I really hope this means people will turn up and see it on the big screen, for which it was intended."

Using 500 extras, two relatively unknown actors and one extremely long continuous shot, Mendes depicts a tale of the trenches during World War I with 1917. Two British soldiers (played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) are sent on a suicide mission to warn of an impending German ambush. The high-concept twist is that the soldiers only have hours to save their comrades and the action unfolds in real time.

Going into the night, The Irishman was favored by awards pundits to win the coveted category, which also included Todd Phillips' The Joker and two other Netflix titles, The Two Popes and Marriage Story, the latter of which led all films with six nominations. The Irishman was the only nominee to earn both director and screenplay nods, but those went to Mendes and Quentin Tarantino, for 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, respectively.

Scorsese received tributes from the stage throughout the night, including from Mendes when he accepted the director honor earlier in the night. "There's not one director in the world who is not in the shadow of Martin Scorsese," he said.

A win for The Irishman would have given Netflix its first-ever best picture win at the Globes. (Last year, Alfonso Cuarón's Roma won Netflix its first best foreign film.) Instead, the Scorsese mob epic was shut out. 

When speaking backstage after the best-picture win, Mendes said he is optimistic about the future of theatrical film. "I think it’s in the hand of the filmmakers more than anything else, [to] make movies that audiences feel like they need to see on a big screen or else they’re missing out." He added, "I don’t think I would’ve been that disappointed if the way we had gone was to be a two-week theatrical release and then go on TV screens."

The Golden Globe Awards were hosted by Ricky Gervais and broadcast live coast-to-coast on NBC (from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET/5 p.m. to 8 p.m. PT) on Sunday.