The Producers Guild of America just announced best picture nominees, which follow the Oscars by expanding its contenders' list to 10. Included are obvious front-runners "Avatar," "Up in the Air" and "Inglourious Basterds," but curious omissions include a few films with high Oscar hopes like serious artsy fare "A Serious Man" and "The Messenger" and comedies "The Hangover," "It's Complicated" and "Julie & Julia." The latter PGA snubs aren't too surprising. Most award groups, sad to say, laugh off comedies, although PGA did nominate "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" when it was spurned by Academy members.
But the PGA Awards usually skunk sci-fi fare, so the big jaw-droppers on its current list are "District 9" and "Star Trek."
In past years, four of the five PGA rivals usually aligned with the Oscar list. Only a few times (1992, 1993) did they line up exactly. When nominees differed in the past, the producers, being shrewd business folk, usually preferred blockbusters like "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "The Dark Knight" and animated fare like "Shrek" and "The Incredibles." (Only once has an animated film ever been nominated for best picture at the Oscars: "Beauty and the Beast.")
Never before has PGA made an exception for sci-fi, though, so Oscarologists now must wonder: Can these repeat at the Academy Awards or are they exceptions here following the PGA's longtime preference for box-office hits?
In their 20-year history, the PGA Awards have foreseen 13 of Oscar's eventual best-picture winners, including recent champs "Slumdog Millionaire" and "No Country for Old Men." However, the previous three PGA winners failed to prevail at the Oscars. In 2006, the PGA picked "Little Miss Sunshine" over "The Departed." In 2005, the guild backed "Brokeback Mountain" rather than "Crash," and in 2004 "The Aviator" soared ahead of "Million Dollar Baby."
The only year that the producers guild nominees did not include the eventual Oscar winner was back in 1995 when "Braveheart" failed to make the cut and "Apollo 13" took home the Golden Laurel.
The next Golden Laurel will be bestowed with other PGA Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 24.
Note: Star date given in the photo caption above is today's date written in Trekkie code.
"The Hurt Locker"
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
"Up in the Air"
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
"Fantastic Mr. Fox"
"The Princess and the Frog"
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
"Soundtrack for a Revolution"
BEST TV MOVIE/MINI
"Prayers for Bobby"
NOTE: An earlier draft of this blog item said that PGA voters will use a different balloting process from the Oscars to pick a winner. That claim was challenged by a guild staff in the comments section below. We await further details.
Top photo: Paramount / Bottom: PGA