Friday, the Producers Guild of America joined what will soon grow to a blaring chorus of year-end nominations announcements from guilds and industry groups next week. The results weren’t entirely shocking, as the PGA — which has historically shown an affinity to box office successes — rallied behind films like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “A Quiet Place” while eschewing contenders like “First Man” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
The only true surprise was the exclusion of “Mary Poppins Returns,” which may have met with a mixed-to-positive critical reaction, but has been doing steady business and is, after all, a big, rousing movie musical, the kind of extravagant production that producers can admire.
Generally the PGA is one or two, sometimes more, films off from the Academy’s ultimate lineup. Last year, for example, “Darkest Hour” and “Phantom Thread” failed to score with the producers, while “The Big Sick,” “Molly’s Game,” “I, Tonya,” and “Wonder Woman” — all passed over by the Academy — made it in. You’re talking about different memberships as well as different voting timelines, so it stands to reason things wouldn’t be flush. “Darkest Hour,” for instance, may have benefitted from the British Academy contingent of voters, while “Phantom Thread” buzz was late-breaking just as Oscar nomination ballots were arriving.
With that in mind, and remembering that films like “If Beale Street Could Talk” and even “Eighth Grade” and “First Reformed” do have passion bases that can rally them to nominations, this is by no means game over for any player. But it does start to draw attention to the season’s survivors. The films that have now been nominated by the PGA and SAG-AFTRA (for the ensemble prize) are “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “A Star Is Born.” Those are strong credentials, and you can add best-picture bids at the Golden Globes for each as well.
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Then again, films that have received both SAG-AFTRA ensemble and PGA nominations but failed to secure spots on the best picture Oscar lineup include “The Big Sick,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Bridesmaids,” “Dreamgirls,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Almost Famous,” “Billy Elliot,” and “Waking Ned.” So bear that in mind.
Next week we’ll hear from the art directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, film editors, makeup artists, sound mixers, and writers as the industry’s lens on the season’s offerings really starts to come into focus. The Directors Guild’s announcement on Tuesday will be particularly crucial, firming up the circuit’s true frontrunners.
New year coming in hot!