‘Argo’-nuts rejoice: Producers Guild Award win puts Ben Affleck’s film in Oscar lead
Ben Affleck in 'Argo' (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
Ben Affleck: start polishing your acceptance speech. And invite your fellow producers, George Clooney and Grant Heslov, to lend a hand. It will take a miracle for any other film to win Best Picture in 2013 now that the Producers Guild of America has crowned the “Argo” the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year. Hollywood insiders know that the approximately 4,700 members of the PGA have their fingers on the pulse of the best motion picture – and they’re not bad at predicting the best animated feature either.
So, Affleck, go ahead and thumb your nose at the Academy for overlooking your directing chops when both the PGA and the Directors Guild of America got your style and substance. And, more good news, this PGA win could mean that Clooney might score an Oscar in 2013, after being overlooked in two categories in 2012.
Affleck accepts the PGA award (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision for The Producers Guild/AP Images)
And, yes, I have officially abandoned my favorite film of the year, “Zero Dark Thirty,” in the best picture race. I have to let go or, as my colleague Tom O’Neil tweeted @goldderby: “@thelmadams surrender, Dorothy ... and Thelma .... No ZD30 hope.” (I will remain true to Jessica Chastain for best actress.)
Meanwhile, it’s looking dodgy for “Life of Pi,” “Les Miserables,” and “Django Unchained” in that best pic race. For the past five years, the PGA winner has gone on to win the Oscar. Last year, the PGA chose “The Artist” over “War Horse”; in 2011, the PGA embrace of “The King’s Speech” signaled the end of the best picture dreams of “The Social Network.” In 2009, “The Hurt Locker” trumped “Avatar.” In sixteen of the past twenty-three years, the PGA choice has dovetailed with the Academy Award for Best Picture, starting with “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989.
Both the Academy and the PGA use a similar – and arcane -- system of preferential ballots, rather than a straightforward popular vote. Members rank their favorites among the nominees, and the first-place winner must appear on fifty percent of the ballots. Didn’t happen the first time around? Then they repeat the process, dropping off the least popular, reshuffling votes, until consensus – and the magic fifty percent – is reached. The result is that enthusiasm may get a film a nomination (think “Moonrise Kingdom” or “The Beasts of the Southern Wild”), but broad appeal snags the big prize.