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Producers Guild of America names 'No Country' best picture

February 2, 2008 | 10:06 pm

"No Country for Old Men" continued its recent kudos spree, bumping off all rivals to win best picture from the Producers Guild of America just a week after doing same at the Directors Guild. That's a great omen for winning best picture at the Oscars next, considering that 11 of the PGA's choices over 18 years have done so.

However, the PGA and academy have strayed often recently. For the last three years the PGA has gone its own way, choosing "Little Miss Sunshine" over Oscar champ "The Departed" last year for best pic of 2006, "Brokeback Mountain" for 2005 over academy choice "Crash," and "The Aviator" for 2004 over "Million Dollar Baby."

And just because the producers agree with the directors this year doesn't mean too much. Three films in 18 years have won both laurels but lost the big Oscar Scott_rudinrace: "Brokeback Mountain" (2005), "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) and "Apollo 13" (1995).

The choice of "No Country" is a surprise in one respect. Producers didn't opt for the nominee that's most producer-friendly -- that is, having the biggest box-office return -- as they're often accused of doing. That was the case last year when their choice turned out to be the one with the largest return on investment: "Little Miss Sunshine," which earned $60 million against its cost of $8 million to produce. Profit is also cited as the reason little, quirky indie "The Crying Game" probably won for 1992, earning $62 million against a cost of $4 million.

But that certainly wasn't the case three years ago when PGA voters chose money-loser "The Aviator" ($102-million gross against a $110-million budget) over "Million Dollar Baby" (reaping $100 million against a $30-million budget).

This year's producer's dream jackpot was hit by "Juno," which cost merely $7.5 million but just crossed the $100-million mark at the b.o.

"No Country" has grossed $53 million to date. Miramax projects that its final take will be $70 million. Initial budget was $25 million plus $15 million for its Oscar campaign, according to Variety.

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So far this year "No Country" was also voted best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Critics Choice Awards, plus it won the ensemble award at SAG. "There Will Be Blood" was preferred by the National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. The Golden Globes preferred "Atonement" (best picture, drama) and "Sweeney Todd" (best picture, musical/comedy).

"No Country" producer Scott Rudin and studios Miramax/Paramount Vantage beat themselves in the top PGA race, being the same team behind "There Will Be Blood." Production of the two films was so intermeshed that they overlapped shooting days in the same Texas town.

However, Rudin played more of an integral role in getting "No Country" to the screen. He actually brought the original book by Cormac McCarthy to the attention of Joel and Ethan Cohen more than two decades after working with them on "Raising Arizona."

Why did he think of the Coens again? "You get this synergy of a great filmmaking team and a great novelist coming together in something bigger than both of them," Rudin told Variety. Read Rudin's interview with Awardsdaily.com host Sasha Stone, CLICK HERE.

Other PGA winners tonight: "Ratatouille" (best animated film), "Sicko" (best documentary), "30 Rock" (best TV comedy), "The Sopranos" (best TV drama), "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (best long-form TV), "Planet Earth" (best nonfiction TV program).

(Photos: Paramount Vantage/ Miramax)


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