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Oscar Talk: Why You Should Care About the Producers Guild Awards

Oscar season is the best time of year for movies. The nominations and winners at the various award shows help guide viewers toward the quality prestige movies of the year.

The Oscars also mean competitive office pools, which means it is time to discuss some of the best ways of going about your predictions. In this article, we will take a look at the next scheduled award show: The Producers Guild Awards.

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The Producers Guild Awards sounds incredibly boring, I know. What moviegoer cares which deep-pocketed individuals win for producing the best film of the year?

If you are participating in an Oscar pool and are looking for an edge, then you do.

The Producers Guild Awards is one of the most accurate predictors of the Academy Award winner for Best Picture. Many people like to look at the Golden Globes as a precursor for the Oscars, but the two shows can diverge quite a bit. Not to mention that the Golden Globes can only narrow you down to two movies, given that they divide their Best Picture category.

The Producers Guild Awards is a closer predictor because the producers are the people who win the Best Picture Oscar. Now, it is not a fullproof plan to look at the winner of Best Picture at the Producers and pick it for the Oscar. While the various branches of the Academy pick the nominees in a given category (the acting branch nominates the actors, the directors branch nominate the directors, etc.), the entire Academy votes on the winners.

What this means is that the Producers Guild is a way of seeing what the nominee field will be at the Oscars. Again, this is not a 1-to-1 comparison. Last year, for example, Room received an Oscar nod but not a Producers Guild nomination. The year before, Selma found itself in the same situation. Before that it was Saving Mr. Banks. Before that, the Academy added two films that were not nominated for the PGAs.

So there is a bit of wiggle room every year. Part of this comes from the fact that the PGAs have a locked nomination number of 10 films, while the Oscars can have anywhere from five to 10 depending on the nomination ballots.

Let’s take a look at the PGA nominations for this year:

  • Arrival
  • Hidden Figures
  • Deadpool
  • La La Land
  • Fences
  • Lion
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Hell or High Water
  • Moonlight

My instincts would say that Deadpool is the first film on the chopping block when it comes to the Academy nominations. Great film, but not the type of film that usually gets this much award attention.

Of course, instincts mean little. Looking at the other award shows that have nominations announced, and we see that Deadpool received a Golden Globe nod (but again this category is split by genre, which allowed it to sneak in without having to compete with any dramas) and a Directors Guild Award (again not in the main category, but instead a First Time Director category). It also received an Adapted Screenplay nod from the Writers Guild.

The film was noticeably absent, however, from the Critics Choice Awards and the BAFTAs. Most of the awards love for Deadpool has been accompanied by an asterisk of some sort. Given that the Oscars will more than likely whittle down the field from the Producers’ 10 (the Academy has only nominated the maximum number of nominees on two occasions since they changed their Best Picture format in 2010, and the number has trended lower as the years go by).

My guess would be an eight picture race. Deadpool probably won’t make the cut. Hidden Figures could be cut out, as well, although its release date is helping it gain traction. The absence of Silence from this year’s award season is also interesting. If we get a similar trend to past years, where the Oscars pick at least one film that doesn’t make the PGA cut, it would probably be this one.

What will undoubtedly make the cut? La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, Hell or High Water, and Hacksaw Ridge.

And what about the winner? Keep an eye on which film wins the PGA on January 28. If it is not a big upset, which is to say if it is not La La Land or Moonlight, then whatever wins will be a safe pick for the Oscar. La La Land is the clear Oscar favorite to date, but Moonlight is not far off.

If the PGA goes to a Hell or High Water or even a Manchester by the Sea, then there is reason to be wary of its predicting power. Last year, for instance, The Big Short shocked the film community by winning the PGA, because no one saw it as having a shot at the Oscar. When it came to the Academy Awards later in the year, The Big Short lost out to the more favored Spotlight. (Part of the reason for The Big Short‘s win may have been Brad Pitt’s star status as an actor-producer or the film’s convenient holiday release date).

This said, last year was the first time since the Oscars changed their Best Picture system that the PGA and the Oscar did not go to the same film. Before that, you have to go back to 2007 to find a disparity between the two awards. That predicting rate is pretty solid.

I may have convoluted this analysis by this point. This is a fairly cut and dry method, all things considered. This year, expect La La Land to take the PGA. If it does, you can show no caution in picking it for Best Picture at the Oscars; the PGA will be the last nail in the coffin of Moonlight‘s Oscar run.

If Moonlight pulls it out, though, you can feel a tad more comfortable choosing it as an upset pick at the Oscars. La La Land could still pull it out in the end, though, given it is exactly what the Academy wants to see in a movie.

If any other movie wins, take it with a grain of salt. We could have another The Big Short on our hands. The trend may be coincidental, but before last year the last time the Oscars and the PGAs differed there was a three year span where they were not on the same page (2005-2007). Maybe the two award shows are misaligned again.

And if Deadpool wins, the internet will break.

 

As always, thanks for reading!

Like CineFiles on Facebook for updates on new award season articles

—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)

 

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