The past five PGA feature film winners have gone on to win Oscar’s grand prize. However, that was preceded by a three-year streak in which the PGA picked “The Aviator,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”
Nevertheless, it’s noteworthy that the PGA not only has more than five nominees in feature film as well as crossover between its voters and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, it also uses the preferential balloting system employed by the Academy Awards. That means …
1) Voters rank their picks.
2) Ballots are divided into groups according to first choices on each ballot.
3) The least popular choice — i.e., the film ranked first the fewest times — is eliminated.
4) Ballots from that group are redistributed according to what film is ranked highest on each of those ballots.
5) Repeat steps 3-4 until one film has at least 50% of the ballots.
The PGA nominees replicated eight of the nine Oscar nominees: “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” while also including “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Skyfall” while excluding “Amour.” So again, it’s a good window into the Oscars.
As for the other PGA categories:
Feature animation: Four of the five nominees match the Oscars — “Brave,” “Frankenweenie,” “ParaNorman” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” with “Rise of the Guardians” occupying the spot given by the Academy to “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.” This year, the category has withstood the forming of any strong consensus behind one movie.
Feature documentary: “Searching for Sugar Man” and “The Gatekeepers” are the Oscar representatives here, alongside “A People Uncounted,” “The Island President” and “The Other Dream Team.”
Longform television: Yep, “Game Change” is still around to gather awards, should destiny continue to bestow them. The competition is mostly familiar (“American Horror Story,” “Hatfields & McCoys,” “Sherlock”) with the one fresh addition being PBS’ “The Dust Bowl” from Ken Burns & Co. — a worthy project even if it doesn’t leapfrog the others in this group.
Episodic drama: “Homeland” is a first-time nominee but has been the belle of the awards ball for the past year, though once again, some incredible titles pose a challenge: “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones” and “Mad Men.” A year ago, “Downton Abbey” won in the longform category, while last year’s drama winner, “Boardwalk Empire,” wasn’t nominated this time around.
Episodic comedy: Defending champ “Modern Family” brings its long, strong track record to the fray, against “30 Rock,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Louie.”
Nonfiction television: Last year’s winner, “American Masters,” and two nominees from a year ago, “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and “Deadliest Catch,” are in the mix against “Inside the Actors Studio” and “Shark Tank.”
Live entertainment/talk: For some reason, the PGA includes “The Colbert Report” (the reigning winner) in its noms but once again has shunned Emmy Goliath “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” “Colbert” is up against “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “Saturday Night Live.”
Competition television: Another perennial awards champ, “The Amazing Race,” will try to score the win, with “Dancing with the Stars,” “Project Runway,” “Top Chef” and “The Voice” hoping to pickpocket the trophy.
Sports program: In a mix of series and specials, HBO has a quartet of nominees (“24/7,” “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley,” “On Freddie Roach” and “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”) against ESPN’s “Catching Hell.”
Children’s program: “Sesame Street” is the powerhouse in this group, “iCarly” is a farewell option and who can argue with “The Weight of the Nation for Kids: The Great Cafeteria Takeover?” That being said, my household will be rooting for “Good Luck Charlie” and “Phineas and Ferb,” assuming I tell my household about these awards to begin with.
Digital series: Three original nominees and three TV derivatives populate this category: “30 Rock: The Webisodes,” “Bravo’s Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen,” “Dexter Early Cuts: All in the Family,” “The Guild,” “H+ The Digital Series” and “Red vs. Blue.”
Special awards: This year, the PGA will present special
honors to Bob and Harvey Weinstein (Milestone Award), Tim Bevan and
Eric Fellner (David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion
Pictures), J.J. Abrams (Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television), Russell Simmons (Visionary Award) and doc “Bully” (Stanley Kramer Award).