It is a blockbuster morning as far as the Producers Guild of America is concerned as it revealed film and TV nominations Thursday for its 34th annual PGA Awards.
Moneymaking sequels Avatar: The Way of Water; Top Gun: Maverick and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever along with commercial hits Elvis, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Everything Everywhere All at Once all made the cut in nominations for the guild’s marquee Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. Joining them on the list are Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, The Banshees of Inisherin, Tár and The Whale.
With theatrical box office slowly recovering, and in some cases matching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels, the PGA is making a statement with a strong showing for hit movies including no less than four sequels — which may be a record number for the organization’s film awards. The PGA has often shown favoritism to movies that scored at the box office as opposed to critics groups for instance, and the major studio presence is particularly strong this year with the Walt Disney Co accounting for Marvel’s Black Panther sequel, 20th Century’s long-awaited Avatar follow-up and Searchlight’s Banshees; Universal with Fabelmans and Focus Features’ Tár; Paramount repped by the 36-years-in-the-waiting Top Gun sequel; and Warners’ Elvis.
This stellar showing for the studios didn’t leave much room for the indies, but A24 scored big as expected with the out-of-the-box sensation Everything Everywhere All at Once, and also perhaps with the most surprising nominee of the bunch The Whale, an intimate drama mostly discussed for Brendan Fraser’s SAG Awards-nominated and Oscar-buzzed performance as a 600-pound man desperately trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter. Netflix made the list only with Rian Johnson’s follow-up to his box office juggernaut Knives Out, which over the Thanksgiving holiday had an unorthodox full performance week of “sneak previews” in the three major exhibition chains where it did very well, and now is climbing up the charts of the top movies to play on the streamer since it began its Netflix run just before Christmas.
Netflix also has a front-runner among PGA’s Animated Feature nominees with Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. Also nominated are Pixar/Disney’s Turning Red; DreamWorks’ Puss In Boots: The Last Wish; A24, again playing in the big guys sandbox with Marcel the Shell With Shoes On; and in line with the PGA’s love affair with money, 2022’s biggest animated box office smash in Universal/Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, which landed its first major awards mention here.
Not making the PGA list of top 10 films are Babylon, Triangle of Sadness, and foreign-language titles All Quiet on the Western Front, and India’s RRR — the latter two have major Best Picture Oscar talk but the PGA rarely nominates foreign-language movies. Also missing are all of 2022’s female-directed films including the much acclaimed Women Talking, The Woman King, Till and She Said, an unfortunate pattern set Wednesday with the DGA announcement.
The PGA has a strong track record in matching the Oscars as both have a set 10 nominees for Best Picture. Last year PGA matched eight out of 10 with the Oscars (for whom they also vet the eligible producers), and both groups agreed on the Best Picture winner, CODA. The year before they also matched with Nomadland, and for 2018 with Green Book. For 2019, however, the PGA chose 1917, while the Academy went with Parasite.
On the TV side, with last year’s drama (Succession) and comedy (Ted Lasso) winners not in the mix, the marquee categories are up for grabs. For the Norman Felton Award for drama, the nominees are all newcomers to the race: the final seasons of AMC’s Better Call Saul and Netflix’s Ozark along with Disney+’s Andor, Apple TV+’s Severance and HBO Max’s The White Lotus. The latter competed in the limited series category a year ago.
With White Lotus moved over, the Limited Series noms are Netflix’s Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story and Inventing Anna, Hulu’s The Dropout and Pam & Tommy, and Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In the race for the Danny Thomas award for comedy, nominees include ABC’s Abbott Elementary which won at the Golden Globes earlier this week along with HBO Max’s Barry and Hacks, FX’s The Bear and Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building.
Two winners from a year ago are back in their respective categories: HBO’s Emmy champ Last Week Tonight With John Oliver returns with a nom in Live Entertainment/Variety/Sketch/Stand-up/Talk Television, while RuPaul’s Drag Race is back to defend in the Outstanding Producers of Game & Competition Television field, where it faces among others Prime Video’s Lizzo’s Watch Out For the Big Grrrls which took the Competition Program Emmy in September.
Below is the complete list of 2023 PGA Awards nominees including the Documentary, Sports, Children’s and Short-Form categories which were unveiled last month.
2023 PGA Awards
Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Banshees of Inisherin
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Top Gun: Maverick
PGA Awards Documentary Nominations Bring Shocks And Surprises: ‘Nothing Compares’ In, ‘All The Beauty And The Bloodshed’ Out
Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Minions: The Rise of Gru
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Drama
Better Call Saul
The White Lotus
Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Comedy
Only Murders in the Building
David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited or Anthology Series Television
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Pam & Tommy
Outstanding Producer of Televised or Streamed Motion Pictures
Hocus Pocus 2
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television
30 for 30
George Carlin’s American Dream
Lucy and Desi
Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy
Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment, Variety, Sketch, Standup & Talk Television
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television
The Amazing Race
Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
Outstanding Producer of Documentary Motion Picture
All That Breathes
Fire of Love
Outstanding Sports Program
Formula 1: Drive to Survive
Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Detroit Lions
Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers
Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Come Off
Outstanding Children’s Program
Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock
Green Eggs and Ham
Snoopy Presents: It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown
Waffles + Mochi’s Restaurant
Outstanding Short-Form Program
Better Call Saul: Filmmaker Training
Love, Death + Robots
Only Murders in the Building: One Killer Question
Sesame Street’s #ComingTogether Word of the Day Series
Tales of the Jedi
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