Awards season is in full swing already, you know. Oh sure, Tinseltown’s stars are still at the sending last year’s tux to the drycleaner stage, and the ladies won’t even have begun choosing what to wear (too early; who knows what will be fashionable by late February?) but as the nominees for all the different awards bodies are announced, it’s Christmas come early for the pundits – and one of the most eagerly analysed selections is that of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), who have this year plumped for Babel, The Departed, Dreamgirls, The Queen and Little Miss Sunshine.
OK, just take a minute there and breathe. We know it’s a shock. But what do these nominees mean? Well, for a start, maybe nothing. The PGA has predicted the eventual Best Picture winner for 11 of its 17 years, but most of those divergences have been in the last few years, with the PGA last year, for example, going for Brokeback Mountain rather than Crash. But it’s still another clue to the shape of the Oscar race, and as such this is not quite the list you might expect.
For a start, there’s the omission of one Mr C. Eastwood. Conventional Hollywood wisdom now has it that Flags of our Fathers is out of serious contention, following its disappointing box office performance and respectful rather than spectacular reviews. But Letters from Iwo Jima is still very much in the running, and its omission here is a surprise. Meanwhile, The Queen has been getting acting nods for Helen Mirren all over the shop (can someone please nominate Michael Sheen as supporting actor? Two critics circle nods and that’s it so far) but isn’t thought to be a likely Best Picture winner.
But the surprise inclusion here is Little Miss Sunshine, the little indie that could. It seems that no one in Hollywood has a bad word to say about the family road-trip drama / comedy, making it a dark horse contender (at least for Screenplay prizes). If you ask us it’s good but not great, and certainly not as good as last year’s relatively overlooked The Squid and the Whale, but maybe Hollywood is feeling guilt for overlooking that little gem last year and is trying to get in touch with its indie side. Or not.
And then there’s United 93, our film of the year, which still ain’t getting awards love. Rumours continue to circulate that this is because many Academy (and other) voters refuse to watch it because it’s, like, totally upsetting and stuff, but fingers crossed that it will get some acknowledgement before the end of the race.
The PGA also announced its five nominees for Best Feature Animation: Cars, Flushed Away, Happy Feet, Ice Age: The Meltdown (huh? Did any of them see it? OK, it made money, but really!) and the wonderful, the sweet, the scary, the splendiferous Monster House. Which won’t win. You ask us, it’s going to be Happy Feet. Those damn penguins strike awards gold again. In the TV movies category is Helen Mirren again in Elizabeth I, Bleak House, Mrs Harris, Flight 93 and Disney’s phenomenon High School Musical. The winners will be announced on January 20 in LA.