LOS ANGELES • Hollywood's producers handed 1917 their top annual prize last Saturday, a reliable Oscars bellwether that puts the World War I thriller in the box seat for next month's showpiece event.
The movie, which follows two British soldiers on a perilous mission across no man's land, has already scooped the Golden Globe for best drama and has 10 Oscar nominations including for best picture.
Collecting the Producers Guild of America (PGA) film award at a celebrity-packed ceremony in Los Angeles, director Sam Mendes said making the film was "humbling, joyful and by far the best experience of my professional life".
In a bold film-making experiment, 1917 travels through trenches and crater-filled battlefields in what appears to be almost one continuous shot stretching for two hours.
"From the first day we actually shot – we did a six-or seven-minute take – I thought 'this is exciting'," Mendes said. "And I didn't feel we ever looked back. We had difficult days but I never doubted it."
He added: "It's certainly unlike any movie I've made."
The PGAs have predicted 21 of the past 30 winners of the Academy Award for best picture, including Mendes' 1999 victor American Beauty. Chosen by the 8,000-odd Hollywood movers and shakers of the PGA, the awards were attended by A-listers such as Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro and Nicole Kidman.
Netflix programming boss Ted Sarandos was given the guild's historic achievement award for overseeing the streaming giant's rapid rise in Hollywood.
"It's really hard to think that there's any bias against streaming," Mr Sarandos said, pointing to the firm's 24 Oscar nominations – including two for best picture (The Irishman and MaRead More – Source