There has to be some frowning and head-scratching going on this morning by strategists working for Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken and particularly Ava DuVernay ‘s Selma as both are missing in the just-announced list of nominees for the Producers Guild of America’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for best feature film. A Zanuck nom is regarded as a reliable Oscar bellwether — a reflection of general industry sentiments. The final lap of last year’s Best Picture battle was an either-or between 12 Years A Slave and Gravity, and this resulted in a PGA tie with both films winning half a Zanuck.
The nominees are American Sniper (what?), Birdman, Boyhood (of course), Foxcatcher (bounce-back from Schultz tirade), Gone Girl, Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Nightcrawler, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash. A hearty back-pat for Nightcrawler and director-writer Dan Gilroy! And Gone Girl is back in the arena. And all hail Damian Chazelle‘s Whiplash.
The Selma exclusion is the biggest shocker. The civil-rights period drama is currently regarded as a likely Best Picture nominee by nearly all of the Oscar season know-it-alls (including me, despite my belief that it’s not a great film but a good one). So right now these people — particularly Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, who’s been one of the film’s biggest supporters — have some ‘splainin’ to do.
My guess is that recent negative reports about Selma having mischaracterized President Lyndon Johnson‘s attitude and record about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are a factor in its absence. Too many reliable sources said that DuVernay got it wrong on this matter. The question is whether or not the PGA nominations will influence other voting bodies.
I thought Unbroken might make the cut because (a) it’s regarded by some as a reasonably decent, very handsomely produced film and (b) it’s made a lot of dough since opening on 12.25 — $87,801,000 domestic and $6,800,000 foreign. But I guess the relentless, Passion of the Christ-like emphasis on brutality and torture was too much for PGA members. Or something. Theories?
I didn’t expect Wild and Into The Woods to make the cut either so their absence isn’t a major issue.
The 27th annual PGA awards will happen on Saturday, 1.24, right smack in the middle of the Sundance Film Festival.
Perspective from TheWrap‘s Steve Pond: “Since the Academy expanded from five to 10 Best Picture nominees and the PGA followed suit in 2009, more than 80 percent of the Producers Guild nominees have gone on to capture Best Picture nominations at the Oscars. Of the 47 Oscar nominees since then, 41 have first received PGA noms. Still, there has never been a year since the expansion in which at least one PGA nominee didn’t miss out on an Oscar nod, and there has never been a year in which at least one Oscar nomination went to a film that had not been singled out by the producers.”