A tie. A statistical tie. Both Gravity and 12 Years a Slave were announced the winners last night, to the shock of everyone. A first for the Producers Guild of America and a monkey wrench in this Oscar season that is both frustrating and exciting. Since 2009 the Producers Guild has decided on their winners like the Oscar’s, with a preferential ballot. The members of the PGA and motion picture academy, incidentally each of whom have about 6000 members, have ranked their respective Best Picture nominees. If one nominee garners more than 50% of the first-place votes, it becomes Best Picture. If no nominee reaches this threshold (which is more likely), the film with the fewest first place votes is eliminated, with its ballots being reapportioned to the second place choice.
If no film cross the required 50% + one ballot threshold at this point, the film with the fewest first place votes is again eliminated, with its ballots being apportioned to the next choice still in play (i.e., if the second place choice on a ballot is no longer in the running, then the ballot would be reapportioned to the third place choice and so on.) This process of elimination and reapportion continues until one film reaches at least 50% + one ballots or, as in the case of this year’s PGA Awards, there are two films, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, that each had the exact same number of voters ranking it higher than the other.
With American Hustle having just won the SAG ensemble award and now this 12 Years/Gravity split, what does that mean for Oscar’s Best Picture? Prevailing thought says that Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuarón will take the director’s prize at the DGA next week but that sure won’t clear anything up. Or, does it mean that we’ve been looking at the wrong film(s) the whole time? Has the battle between American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave allowed the mega-blockbuster (and mega-popular) Gravity to sneak in and take it all? It’s also likely to snatch up the lion’s share of tech wins (if not all of them) and were it to win Picture and Director as well we’d have a legitimate sweep at the Oscars by the most popular film, one that we haven’t seen since The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
Link to the Producers Guild Awards show here:
Announcement starts at 13:52.