The Producers Guild of America is supposed to be the Oscar bellwether. In the four years that the Academy has had an expanded Best Picture lineup of nine or ten, the PGA has been the only group whose own top prize has gone on the win the Oscar all four times. Last night's PGA ceremony was supposed to finally clarify for us that American Hustle was the film to beat, but then the unthinkable (and I'm not just throwing that word, "unthinkable", around) happened.
The PGA Award was a freakin' TIE, between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave!
Mind = Blown.
Elsewhere, Frozen predictably triumphed in Best Animated Feature, while Alex Gibney's slick We Steal Secrets took home the Documentary honour, which isn't a bad consolation prize after it failed to even make the Academy's 15-title shortlist.
But back to the news at hand: the unprecedented tie. We may have to look to next weekend's DGA Award to break the tie. All signs seem to point to Alfonso Cuaron to take that prize, but even that won't ultimately give us too much clarification. Oscar ballots still don't go out for another month! That's a long time for momentum to shift in one film's favour or another. Even though Best Director and Best Picture almost always go hand-in-hand (if the Academy has that option, which they didn't last year), I could absolutely see a scenario by which Cuaron wins the Directing Oscar but the prestige and "Importance" of 12 Years a Slave triumph in the top category. Predicting a Director/Picture split is really risky, but that may be the only way to guess at least one of them right.
And what of American Hustle? It could definitely rally as being the lighter option that takes advantage of the vote split between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.
It may fall on late-season voting groups like BAFTA or even the ACE to lean us in the right direction, but there's no denying that this is the closest Oscar race in a long time.
The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
12 Years a Slave: Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
Frozen: Peter Del Vecho
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks: Alexis Bloom, Alex Gibney, Marc Shmuger