The Oscar Warrior: What Do the PGA Nominations Mean?

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We just posted our Official Predictions in the acting categories for this year’s Oscars, and we’re a day away from our predictions for Best Picture, director and the two screenplay categories and the Producers Guild of America threw a monkeywrench into the works with their own nominations.

We’re just going to focus on the movies they picked in the feature film category for now since that’s the most relevant for the Oscars (at least for now).

The PGA went with:

THE ARTIST
BRIDESMAIDS
THE DESCENDANTS
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
THE HELP
HUGO
THE IDES OF MARCH
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
MONEYBALL
WAR HORSE

The above is good news for Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, Tate Taylor’s The Help, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Bennett Miller’s Moneyball and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, all of which were already pegged for Best Picture nominations. One has to assume the Directors Guild (DGA) will pick their five out of those six movies, the Writers Guild (WGA) has already ruled out The Artist but they also have two categories, original and adapted.

A PGA nomination is also good news for David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which had not been performing that greatly at the box office, and a PGA nomination is clearly more for the quality of the film than for its box office success. The same can be said for George Clooney’s The Ides of March, which was mostly ignored until the Golden Globe nominations. Many felt that its inclusion in key categories like Best Picture, Director and Actor were more because the Hollywood Foreign Press wanted to hang out with George Clooney than anything else. The PGA nomination proves that the movie does have solid industry backing, at least among producers.

Seeing the Kristin Wiig-Paul Feig R-rated comedy Bridesmaids nominated also isn’t that surprising considering what a huge box office success it was this summer, and it adds to the film’s SAG Ensemble nomination as well as a number of Golden Globes nods the movie has received. (Oddly, SAG also nominated Melissa McCarthy for her supporting role in the movie while the Golden Globes didn’t.) There’s been a lot of chatter that Bridesmaids may get into the Best Picture race, and having PGA and SAG nominations is a very good sign of that coming true, but also not a guarantee. Bill Condon’s Dreamgirls received nominations from both groups, but then was snubbed in the Best Picture race, though that was also when it was still just five nominees.

What does this mean for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and Nicolas Refn’s Drive, both of which have been doing very well with critics’ groups over the last month? Well, it’s certainly not great because the PGA does have members in common with the Academy, although they also aren’t the largest branch, which means that others, such as directing and technical groups, could easily pick either or both as their Best Picture.

One thing that has to kept in mind is that the Academy is a much vaster and more diverse group than the PGA, which is only producers. The Academy is made up of actors, directors, writers, cinematographers, make-up people, publicists, and a lot more variety of industry types, and just because producers like one or more of the above movies, they may be fulfilling a different criteria than others.

The other thing to bear in mind is the new Best Picture rule, which puts a lot more emphasis on First Place selections, whereas the PGA nominations are a typical weighted system where the Top 10 become the nominations. For all we know, seven of their choices have 85% of the nominations and the others just go in by default of filling up ten slots. The Academy won’t have that issue and there may only be eight or nine Best Picture nominees. This makes it a lot more difficult for movies like The Ides of March or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to get in. As far as Bridesmaids, having SAG and PGA support just moved it up the ranks.

Either way, we’l have our own Best Picture (and director and screenplay) predictions posted tomorrow and we’ll see how quickly the race changes once the WGA and DGA announce their nominations in the coming week.