The Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards have been an Oscar bellwether since their inception in 1990, giving their first ever Golden Laurel Best Film award to Driving Miss Daisy (1989), the eventual Oscar winner for Best Picture. In fact, the winner of the Producers Guild prize has gone on to win the Oscar in 15 of the 22 years that the PGA award has been given out, and recently matching up each of the last 4 years with No Country for Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, and last year’s The King’s Speech taking home both awards.
If the PGA award is as good a prognosticator as it is thought to be, then The Artist appears to be the Oscar frontrunner, leaving the PGA awards with the top honor as the Best Film of 2011. The Artist, produced by the little-known Thomas Langmann and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, has been the darling of awards season, earning nominations and taking home loads of prizes from various guilds, awards circles, and critics circles. But that’s not to say it’s been a one-horse race.
The Descendants is also among the favorites to take home Oscar come February, after a win at the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama and several other early season prizes. It’s been a close race thus far, but it looks like The Artist, which has earned acclaim for its universal appeal despite being both silent and in black and white, has pulled ahead by a neck with its win at the PGA Awards. Hugo is also still in the race, as are other films including The Help and Midnight in Paris, but to think that a moviebesides The Artist or The Descendants would win at the Academy Awards is becoming more and more of a pipe dream.
The other big winner at the PGA Awards was The Adventures of Tintin, winning honors as the Best Animated Film. With the animated feature race at the Oscars entirely up in the air, this could go a long way in predicting how the Academy will vote, considering that there has really been no consensus in the field to this point.
Rango was the early season favorite, but with wins at the Golden Globes and now the PGA Awards, it’s becoming harder to discount Tintin, produced by Peter Jackson, Kathleen Kennedy, and Steven Spielberg. Many were surprised by Tintin‘s win at the Globes, but since its creation in 2006, the PGA Award for Best Animated Film has matched up with the Oscar winner in that category ever year except for 2007, which saw Cars take home the PGA prize and Happy Feet enjoy the ultimate prize at the Oscars.
With the PGA Awards now out of the way and a couple of races become a bit less murky, we turn our heads to the Oscar nominations on Jan. 24th, the Directors Guild Awards on Jan. 28th, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 29th to get a better idea of some of the other primary category races.
The 2012 Academy Awards will be held Sunday, February 26th, so expect continuing coverage as more and more of the big ticket precursor awards are handed out. Stay tuned.