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Producers Guild of America expands best picture list to 10 nominees (and admits it's an Oscar warm-up act)

September 21, 2009 |  1:02 pm

News that the Producers Guild of America is expanding its list of best picture nominees to 10 removes all doubt about the reason for the award's purpose. It doesn't exist chiefly because it's important to know what producers think is the best film of the year. No, no — its priority is to influence the Oscars' outcome. Of course, we've always known that, secretly, deep down, but now PGA just confirmed what's always gone unspoken.

Slumdog millionaire pga awards

A few years ago, PGA virtually admitted this same point when the Oscars switched its ceremony date from late March-early April to late February-early March and all of the other guild awards (including SAG and WGA) moved up too, to stay out in front and retain their influence. 

Over the last 20 years, PGA has correctly forecast the best picture at the Academy Awards 13 times. However, most of that agreement was in earlier years. The Oscars and PGA Awards agreed on recent Oscar choices "Slumdog Millionaire" and "No Country for Old Men," but they disagreed the previous three years.

"The PGA board approved the expansion of our best produced picture category nominations to support our colleagues at the academy, but also because we feel it better represents the unprecedented diversity of films being produced today," said PGA President Marshall Herskovitz.

"We're excited to involve even more industry members in this year's event, as having 10 best produced picture nominees allows us to recognize even more extraordinary films," said David Friendly and Laurence Mark, co-chairs of the PGA Awards.

Oh, really? If that's the case, why didn't PGA adopt this approach on its own earlier? Why did they do so only after the Oscars made the leap? The idea to expand the best-picture list to 10 was presented to the academy's board of governors by Mark and colleague Bill Condon, who produced the last Oscar show. Clearly, PGA was aware of this option earlier but cared to embrace it only after the Oscars did so. That tattles a lot.

PGA nominees will be announced Jan. 5. The award will be bestowed by Jan. 24. The Oscars will be bestowed March 7.

Photo: Fox Searchlight

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