PGA Noms Offer Some Hints, Some Fake-Outs About Best Picture Oscar Race (Analysis)
BAFTA Adds Sixth Nomination Slot for Outstanding British Film Award
Wednesday afternoon's announcement of the nominees for the 24th annual Producers Guild Awards -- and, in particular, the nominees for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures, the producers union's top prize, which honors the producers of the year's best films and is also known as "the PGA Award" -- is of limited value to those of us who are trying to forecast the best picture Oscar race. This is because the PGA still guarantees 10 nominees for the PGA Award, whereas the Academy two years ago abandoned its guarantee of 10 best picture nominees in favor of a new voting system that can produce anywhere between five and 10, so there might well be more PGA Award nominees than best picture Oscar nominees.
It was always expected that the PGA would recognize Argo (Warner Bros.), Les Miserables (Universal Pictures), Life of Pi (20th Century Fox), Lincoln (DreamWorks), Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Co.) and Zero Dark Thirty (Columbia Pictures), which have been recognized by virtually every major awards group thus far. It was anything but certain, however, that Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight), Django Unchained (The Weinstein Co.), Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features) and Skyfall (Columbia Pictures) would join them.
Beasts has not gone over well with several of the other important precursor groups (it was disqualified by SAG and received no Golden Globe nominations). DVD screeners of Django Unchained, because it was finished so late in the year, were not sent to guild voters (screeners of all of the other PGA-nominated films were). Moonrise Kingdom has long been regarded as an on-the-bubble contender (and was probably boosted with PGA voters by its association with producer-extraordinnaire Scott Rudin). And Skyfall did not exactly have history on its side (in the sense that none of the other six Bond films that was released in the era of the PGA Awards were nominated).
All four films, however, were not only well-reviewed but also quite profitable within the U.S. -- Beasts and Moonrise on an indie scale, and Django and Skyfall by any measure -- the two things that PGA Award nominees almost always are.
Based on history, though, they should proceed with caution -- especially Skyfall. In each of the past three years, the PGA and the Academy have overlapped on all but two or three of their nominees. The discrepancies have almost always involved the PGA siding with big box-office successes from big studios, followed by the Academy replacing them with either other big box-office successes from big studios or, more commonly, smaller-scale critics' darlings.
In 2009, the PGA nominated Paramount's Star Trek ($257 million domestically) and Warner Bros.' Invictus ($37 million domestically), whereas the Academy opted instead for Warner Bros.' The Blind Side ($255 million domestically), yes, but also Focus Features' A Serious Man ($9 million domestically). In 2010, the PGA nominated Warner Bros.' The Town ($92 million domestically), whereas the Academy opted instead for Roadside Attractions' Winter's Bone ($6 million domestically). And In 2011, the PGA nominated Universal's Bridesmaids ($169 million domestically) and Sony's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ($103 million domestically), plus Sony's The Ides of March ($41 million domestically), whereas the Academy opted instead for The Tree of Life ($13 million domestically) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close ($32 million domestically).