Producers Guild Nominations Suggest Joker and Knives Out are Best Picture Contenders

The PGA nominations are in, and the most reliable Oscars prognosticator loves Joker, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and more.

Joker and Knives Out Nominated by Producers Guild

Awards season is a long and illustrious process. Sunday saw the highly visible Golden Globes telecast crown 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as the Best Pictures of the year, and next Sunday will see the Critics Choice Awards have their vote. Yet if you’re simply waiting for the Academy Awards, and all the Oscars that come with it, then probably the most reliable prognosticator remains the Producers Guild of America—and they just announced their nominations for the equivalent of Best Picture.

Hence in what might be the best evidence yet of blockbuster hits like Joker, Knives Out, and Ford v Ferrari competing against the generally expected Oscar frontrunners, all three were nominated for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures (Best Picture in all but name). Those three crowd-pleasers join the slew of more traditional Best Picture nominees, including 1917 and Once Upon a Time, as well as The Irishman, Marriage Story, and Little Women. For cinephiles, more satisfying still is fresh evidence Parasite will continue punching outside of its “Foreign Language” weight class, as the Bong Joon-ho thriller is also nominated for the Zanuck award.

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While none of these nominations are wholly surprising, they show a continued shift in awards voter thinking. If Parasite follows suit from the PGA to the Academy, it will be only the fifth foreign language film to be nominated for Best Picture in the last 20 years. Rarer still is seeing a superhero movie nominated for Best Picture. The PGA has been ahead of the curve in accepting that genre (and its producer-friendly box office receipts) than the Academy, famously nominating The Dark Knight for Best Picture while the Oscars gave that Batman vs. Joker movie the snub. And last year it beat the Oscars in giving Black Panther a Best Picture nomination. If Joker follows suit at the Academy, it will be only the second time a comic book movie has been nominated for Best Picture.

Perhaps the biggest surprise among these nominees is both Ford v Ferrari and Knives Out getting in. Both are considered surprise hits in the fall season, each earning over $100 million in the U.S. alone based off elusive older adult audiences turning out in droves. While Knives Out was nominated for Best Comedy at the Golden Globes, there is no genre distinction at the PGA or Oscars, and it was notably snubbed a Best Screenplay nomination by the Globes (and went ignored by the Critics Choice Awards in the Best Picture category, with Ford v Ferrari and Joker taking up the populist slots).

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With all three nominated for Best Picture, as well as Jojo Rabbit, several more awards-friendly efforts went noticeably ignored. This includes Bombshell, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and Richard Jewell.

While less well-known to casual moviegoers, the Producers Guild is generally the most accurate at predicting how the Academy will vote. The Academy itself is comprised of about a thousand members currently, with producers being among the bigger blocs. The Producers Guild has more than 8,000 members though, who are often more quick to reflect the “conventional” tastes of Hollywood, often by factoring in the box office’s vote.

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The PGA have matched the Oscar’s pick for Best Picture 21 of the last 30 years, including most recently Green Book and The Shape of Water. So their embrace of Netflix, foreign language, and superhero movies in the Best Picture category all portend an evolving criteria of what is “best.” Although, it’ll be interesting to see if they’d crown any of those, particularly Netflix’s The Irishman or Marriage Story, with a Best Picture win…

The list of nominees is below:

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

1917

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Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

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Jojo Rabbit

Joker

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Knives Out

Little Women

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Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

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Parasite

Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures

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Abominable

Frozen II

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Missing Link

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Toy Story 4

The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Drama

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Big Little Lies

The Crown

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Game of Thrones

Succession

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The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Comedy

Barry

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Fleabag

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

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Schitt’s Creek

Veep

The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited Television

Chernobyl

Fosse/Verdon

True Detective

Unbelievable

When They See Us

Outstanding Producer of Televised or Streamed Motion Pictures

American Son

Apollo: Missions to the Moon

Black Mirror: Striking Vipers

Deadwood: The Movie

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

David Crow is the Film Section Editor at Den of Geek. He’s also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. Read more of his work here. You can follow him on Twitter @DCrowsNest.