The next major guild lined up for nominations, the Producers Guild of America, is set to reveal its choices for Theatrical, Animated and Documentary Motion Pictures on Friday and here is my preview and predictions of how these might look.
The PGA membership sits at around 7,000, pretty close to the current number of AMPAS members. The Producers Guild Awards have only been around since 1990 (called the Golden Laurels back then; changing to its current name in 2002) but have historically been a very strong precursor to a Best Picture nomination. They used to have five, just as the Academy’s Best Picture did, but changed to a solid 10 when the Academy also changed their number of Best Picture nominees in 2009 to 10. Even though the Academy again changed their number of nominees (no anywhere from 5-10 depending on number of votes) but the Producers Guild have kept theirs at 10.
Generally only one or two films on the PGA list fails to earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination, and vice versa. Last year, all PGA nominees were nominated except Deadpool in a year of nine BP nominees. That Deadpool nomination didn’t come as too much of a surprise as one of the key elements of at least one nominee with the PGA is a huge box office haul. They are producers, after all, it’s sort of their job to produce projects that earn revenue for their studios. This year has a few films that fall under that category and might see a PGA nomination on Friday but less likely a Best Picture one.
The most obvious candidate here is Get Out. Made for just $4.5M and earning $175M in the US and $254M worldwide. Add to that that it’s scored the most Best Picture wins from critics and you’ve got yourself the biggest lock possible for PGA. Wonder Woman is a very strong possibility here. Great reviews, huge box office, records set all over the place. This is a perfect PGA choice. Dunkirk has the reviews, box office and prestige to be a sure nominee here. Christopher Nolan has a good track record here with The Dark Knight and Inception earning spots here. Logan could find itself here as well. Like Wonder Woman (and Deadpool last year), it’s a box office success from a comic book genre that is actually one of the best reviewed films of the year.
Call Me By Your Name is one of the best reviewed movies of the year but still in the early stages of its release. Box office in its limited theaters has been good and its won two Best Picture critics prizes along with a SAG and handful of Golden Globe nominations. Darkest Hour, which for a while seemed like just a shot for Gary Oldman in Best Actor, looks like it might be up for more. While the film hasn’t earned any BP wins, the box office is looking very, very good for the film, which just went into wide release last weekend. Lady Bird, another massive critical hit, also has shown strong box office skills, recently becoming A24’s biggest grosser to date (just passing Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight).
Other critical hits that have earned praise and prizes like The Shape of Water, The Florida Project and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri are very likely candidates as well. I, Tonya is a late breaker but showing the gumption for a surprise mention. I suspect only two of these will get nominations from the PGA.
What about The Post? It’s been such a mixed bag for the Spielberg-Streep-Hanks film, getting shut out of SAG but then huge with the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice. Have enough PGA members seen it. My guess is yes, they have. Speaking of SAG, what about SAG Cast nominees The Big Sick and Mudbound? The Big Sick ended being Amazon’s main awards play, something I’m sure they did not see coming as they put their ‘prestige’ pics Last Flag Flying and Wonder Wheel deep in awards season. Both of those films flopped horribly with critics and audiences so that leaves The Big Sick as their savior. Mudbound has had a bigger push and better showing with awards for Netflix than any other film they’ve had but is it enough?
But unless we have a year like last year (the first since the expansion) at least one eventual Best Picture nominee will be left off this list. Looking back at the films that have missed here there’s no correlation, no connection of any kind to type or genre. While they do tend to be smaller films (Winter’s Bone, A Serious Man, The Tree of Life), sometimes there are eventual Oscar winners like Brie Larson in Room and Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side whose films fail to show up here.
The Animated Feature nominees tend to lean towards studio fare (even box office failures) so expect to see the likes of Coco, Ferdinand, The Boss Baby and/or any number of sequels that hit this year like Cars 3, Despicable Me 3 or The LEGO Batman Movie. Don’t expect to see any foreign language animated film show up here.
Documentary Feature is actually tougher. The only PGA nominee to earn an Oscar nomination last year was the eventual winner of both – O.J.: Made in America. Three other nominees here made the Oscar shortlist but were not nominated. Without a major frontrunner like last year we could see any number of films show up. I’d look for Jane, Faces Places, Last Men in Aleppo, Chasing Coral, City of Ghosts, Strong Island and maybe one or two outside of the Oscar shortlist like Kedi or Dina to be the final five here.
Here are my predictions:
THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURE
The Big Sick
Call Me By Your Name [EDIT: With Molly’s Game getting an ACE nom, it will likely replace Call Me By Your Name] Dunkirk
The Florida Project
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Wonder Woman [EDIT: With Blade Runner 2049 getting an ACE nom, it will likely replace Wonder Woman]
ANIMATED MOTION PICTURE
The Boss Baby
Despicable Me 3
The LEGO Batman Movie
DOCUMENTARY MOTION PICTURE
City of Ghosts
Last Men in Aleppo