The Producers Guild Nominates 10 for Top Honors

3 Jan

Left to right: Emma Stone, Tate Taylor, and Viola Davis. Despite all the year-end acclaim for director Taylor's movie, as well as almost certain Oscar nominations for cast members such as Davis, Jessica Chastain, and Octavia Spencer, no one really expects for Taylor to score a Best Director nod. Taylor is a lifelong friend of The Help's author Kathryn Stockett, and she made sure Taylor was part of the deal when she sold the rights to her book. The Help is only Taylor's second feature film. Perhaps his peers feel like he has not properly paid his dues. He also acts and was featured in last year's Best Picture nominee The Winter's Bone.

Okay, here’s a list of the nominees for this year’s Producers Guild of America award. It’s a field of 10 though most prognosticators figure the Academy’s roster of Best Picture nominees will top out at 8.

Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:

1. The Artist

  • Producer: Thomas Langmann

2. Bridesmaids

  • Producers: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, Clayton Townsend

3. The Descendants

  • Producers: Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

  • Producers: Ceán Chaffin, Scott Rudin

5. The Help

  • Producers: Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Brunson Green

6. Hugo

  • Producers: Graham King, Martin Scorsese

7. The Ides of March

  • Producers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Brian Oliver

8. Midnight in Paris

  • Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum

9. Moneyball

  • Producers: Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt

10. War Horse

  • Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

The Producers Guild Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

1. The Adventures of Tintin

  • Producers: Peter Jackson, Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

2. Cars 2

  • Producer: Denise Ream

3. Kung Fu Panda 2

  • Producer: Melissa Cobb

4. Puss in Boots

  • Producers: Joe M. Aguilar, Latifa Ouaou

5. Rango

  • Producers: John B. Carls, Gore Verbinski

Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey is the winner of the Stanley Kramer award, named after the producer-director of such esteemed “message” movies as The Defiant Ones (1958), Inherit the Wind (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Ship of Fools (1965), and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967).

Well, there are about five surprises here: two omissions and three dark horses.

  1. No mention of The Tree of Life– Yes, it’s a bit of a surprise given the acclaim among the critics and its apparent momentum; however, it’s not a film for everybody’s tastes, and, let’s face it, producers are usually preoccupied by the bottom line, and with few exceptions, this group gravitates toward box office hits. The Tree of Life‘s quest for gold does not have to be over just yet.

    Brad Pitt in Moneyball

    Is Brad Pitt (seen here in Moneyball) the man? I think he might be. Pitt gave two incredibly varied performances this year: the stern, flawed, and misunderstood Eisenhower era dad in The Tree of Life, and the baseball manager who finds his way after learning to take risks in Moneyball. Pitt is credited as a co-producer on both films, and that will likely appeal to Academy voters, especially if each earns a Best Picture nod.

  2. No mention of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Producer Scott Rudin’s adaptation of the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, about a boy left fatherless after 9/11, has been getting a lot of buzz on one hand; on the other hand, Rudin has cloaked his movie in secrecy (outside of late Oscar qualifying runs in LA and New York) in anticipation of a wide release later this month.  The feeling is that Rudin wants to be the last movie out of the gate in order for his film to feel fresh and new to Academy members who might have already had their fill of The Artist, The Descendants, War Horse, etc. The exclusion here is not a good sign.
  3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo scores a nod – Surprise! The Americanized version of Stieg Larsson’s international best seller about a crack computer-hacker who gets hired to help solve a decades old murder is also produced by Rudin; it’s been massively, massively hyped, but so far audiences have been relatively scarce. Note to Rudin: next time you want to launch a holiday blockbuster, you might want to avoid tag lines like “The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas.” I’m just sayin’. Could this nod signal a turnaround? Does it portend a Best Picture nomination as well?
  4. Bridesmaids? Really? – Am I glad that a movie starring, and co-written by, Kristen Wiig, the funniest woman on television, turned out to be such a major blockbuster? Yeah, I guess; however, I don’t know that grown women acting as juvenile as the overgrown frat boys in 2009’s The Hangover is necessarily an accomplishment worth celebrating to such a vaunted degree.  Also, at least The Hangover was genuinely funny with one increasingly outrageous turn after another–and with no less than super-charismatic Bradley Cooper leading the way.  In contrast, Bridesmaids plays like a bunch of gross-out gags strung together for easy laughs. Okay, Melissa McCarthy is a scene stealer, but her performance doesn’t really elevate the movie to a comedy classic. There is a germ of a story there–about Wiig’s desperately single gal–but it gets buried under way too much crap. Literally. Of course, as previously noted, the PGA is typically drawn to blockbusters. The same cannot be said about the Academy; however, if this movie gets nominated for Best Picture come Oscar time over The Tree of Life, the Academy’s credibility will take yet another hit. I mean, if the skeptics are now saying that The Blind Side was a stretch for the Academy, how will they react to this POS?
  5. George Clooney’s The Ides of March is a wee bit of a surprise. It seemed like a real contender during the fall when it was first released, but the reviews were generally more polite than enthusiastic. It’s a solid, admirable effort, but maybe a bit out of its league. Still, it’s yet another coup for Clooney, who co-produced, co-wrote, directed, and acted in a secondary role. Between this and Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, he’s having a great year, but maybe not as great as Brad Pitt (see sidebar).

Thanks for your consideration…

Producers Guild of America website:


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