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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 February 2019

'Green Book' is now officially an Oscar favourite: road trip drama takes top honour at Producers Guild Awards

The Producers Guild top feature film winner has gone on to win the best picture Oscar 20 out of 29 times, including last year with The Shape of Water

Viggo Mortensen, left, and Mahershala Ali in a scene from 'Green Book'. Photo: AP
Viggo Mortensen, left, and Mahershala Ali in a scene from 'Green Book'. Photo: AP

The race-themed road trip drama Green Book has driven off with the top honor at the Producers Guild Awards, besting awards favorites like Roma, A Star Is Born and Black Panther at the guild's untelevised ceremony Saturday night.

Ten films were up for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award, including BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Crazy Rich Asians, The Favourite, A Quiet Place and Vice.

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award winner has gone on to win the best picture Oscar 20 out of 29 times, including last year with The Shape of Water. The Oscar race will come into focus Tuesday when nominations are announced.

The other Producers Guild winners

The Americans - won the top episodic television Norman Felton award for its final season

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - won the animated movie award

Fred Rogers film Won't You Be My Neighbour? - won top documentary

The fifth season of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - won live entertainment and talk category

The second season of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story - won the award for limited series TV

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown - best non-fiction TV

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - top comedy series

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Lead actor Viggo Mortensen on making 'Green Book'

Making a movie that entertains and ­enlightens in the same breath? “It looks easy,” Viggo Mortensen says. “But it’s very difficult.” The actor, famed for playing ­Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, is talking about Green Book, the new film by Peter Farrelly about a real-life ­African-American concert pianist and his racist Italian-American driver, touring the divided Deep South in the 1960s. The film won the People’s Choice Award when it had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and it has been picking up prizes wherever it has played since.

“I think it’s a refreshing way to deal with important issues without making a ‘message’ movie,” says Mortensen, who plays the streetwise Tony Lip opposite Mahershala Ali’s classically educated Dr Don Shirley. Better known for his gross-out comedies such as Dumb and Dumber, Farrelly calls it a classic odd-couple story. “Those guys came from completely the opposite ends of the spectrum: black concert pianist, five doctorates; Italian bouncer, sixth-grade education and racist.” Put them in a car together for an extended journey and “there’s either going to be an explosion or they’re going to come together. Or both.”

As the pair travel through the segregated South, Tony comes to see up close a distasteful world where black people were made to use toilets outside and couldn’t even try on clothes they were buying in shops. “In 1962, there is very little debate,” Mortensen says. “This is the way it was. These were the problems and the way people spoke to each other at the time.” The title even refers to a guide, The Negro Motorist Green Book, available to African-Americans travelling through the region, giving advice on which motels were safe to stay in.

Updated: January 20, 2019 11:22 AM

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