Producers Guild Awards End in Tie: ‘Gravity’ and ’12 Years a Slave’

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Unprecedented result gives all three top Oscar contenders a big guild win in a tight, competitive race

The Producers Guild of America Awards ended in a shocking and unprecedented dead heat on Sunday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, with “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” tying for the top film award.

Following the SAG Awards ensemble victory for “American Hustle” on Saturday night, the result means that each one of the top three contenders for the Best Picture Oscar emerged from the first weekend of guild awards with a key win. And it brings no clarity at all to what was already a tight, confusing race.

Also read: SAG Awards Winners: The Complete List

It was the first feature-film tie in PGA history — and indeed, the first time any of the major Hollywood guilds has ever declared a tie in its top film category.

Going into the show, it seemed logical to think that the PGA winner would become the Oscar frontrunner. The guild’s feature-film winner has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture 17 times in the 24-year history of the award, including the last six years in a row.

Crucially, the PGA followed the Academy when it expanded its best-picture field from five to 10 nominees – and the PGA is also the only other awards body that counts its final ballots in the top film category using the preferential system, which rewards consensus favorites.

Producers Guild victories for “The Hurt Locker,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Artist” and “Argo” were key signs that those films had what it took to triumph at the Oscars.

But by ending in a tie, the PGA only showed that this is indeed the closest Oscar race in years, and that none of the top contenders can be ruled out. Even “American Hustle,” the odd-man out on Sunday among the top three, has strong support among actors, who make up by far the largest branch in the Academy.

After seeing “Hustle” come out on top on Saturday, both “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” badly needed the PGA victory. The tie throws extra emphasis on next weekend’s Directors Guild Awards, where “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron is considered a slight frontrunner over David O. Russell for “American Hustle” and Steve McQueen for “12 Years a Slave.”

The following weekend’s WGA Awards will be less conclusive, because “12 Years a Slave” is ineligible and “Gravity” was not nominated – meaning that it’s likely this race will go down to the wire as a tossup.

“Hustle” has the actors, “Gravity” has the below-the-line craftspeople, and “Slave” has a critical consensus that seems to be carrying over even into voting bodies (like the producers) that might not seem to be its usual supporters.

And everyone has a race to remember.

What makes the PGA tie even more remarkable is the preferential system of counting. Voters did not simply choose their favorite of the 10 nominees — they ranked the nominees 1-10 on their ballots, and the PGA’s accountants redistributed the ballots of the least popular films one by one, until all that mattered on each ballot was whether “Gravity” or “Slave” was ranked higher.

If the outcome was a true tie — which presenter Ben Affleck said he’d been assured it was — that means that exactly the same number of the PGA’s more than 6,000 voters voted for “Gravity” over “Slave” as voted the other way around.

While the shock that came at the end of the night left the crowd and the awards community buzzing, the Producers Guild had also given out two-and-a-half hours of awards before that moment.

Alex Gibney’s “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” won the PGA Award for documentary feature over a field that didn’t include any of the Oscar doc nominees. “Frozen” was named outstanding animated feature.

On the television side, “Breaking Bad,” “Modern Family” and “Behind the Candelabra” added to their overstuffed trophy cases with more victories.

A number of honorary awards were also presented at the show. Robert Iger received the Milestone Award, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures, Chuck Lorre the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television, Chris Meladandri the Visionary Award, “Fruitvale Station” producers Nina Yang Bongiovi and Forest Whitaker the Stanley Kramer Award, and Peter Jackson, Joe Letteri and WETA Digital the Vanguard Award.

Presenters included Affleck, Barkhad Abdi, Steve Coogan, Daniel Craig, Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Danes, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Jared Leto, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lupita Nyong’o and Kevin Spacey.

The complete list of nominees — winners indicated in bold:

Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of a Theatrical Motion Picture:
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight Pictures) *WINNER (TIE)
Producers:  Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner
“American Hustle” (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Megan Ellison, Jon Gordon, Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
“Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum
“Captain Phillips” (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)
Producers: Robbie Brenner, Rachel Winter
“Gravity” (Warner Bros. Pictures) * WINNER (TIE)
Producers: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
“Her” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Producers: Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, Vincent Landay
“Nebraska” (Paramount Pictures)
Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa
“Saving Mr. Banks” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Producers: Ian Collie, Alison Owen, Philip Steuer
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount Pictures)
Producers: Riza Aziz, Emma Koskoff, Joey McFarland

Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Picture:
“The Croods” (DreamWorks Animation)
Producers: Kristine Belson, Jane Hartwell
“Despicable Me 2″ (Universal Pictures)
Producers: Janet Healy, Chris Meledandri
“Epic” (Twentieth Century Fox)
Producers: Jerry Davis, Lori Forte
“Frozen” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) *WINNER
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
“Monsters University” (Pixar Animation)
Producer: Kori Rae

Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Picture:
“A Place at the Table” (Magnolia Pictures)
Producers: Julie Goldman, Ryan Harrington, Kristi Jacobson, Lori Silverbush
“Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story” (First Run Features)
Producers: Brad Bernstein, Rick Cikowski
“Life According to Sam” (HBO Documentary Films)
Producers: Andrea Nix Fine, Sean Fine, Miriam Weintraub
“We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” (Focus Features) *WINNER
Producers: Alexis Bloom, Alex Gibney, Marc Shmuger
“Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” (HBO Documentary Films)
Producers: James Brabazon, Nick Quested

Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television:
“American Horror Story: Asylum” (FX)
Producers: Brad Buecker, Dante Di Loreto, Brad Falchuk, Alexis Martin Woodall, Ryan Murphy, Chip Vucelich
“Behind the Candelabra” (HBO) *WINNER
Producers: Susan Ekins, Gregory Jacobs, Michael Polaire, Jerry Weintraub
“Killing Kennedy” (National Geographic Channel)
Producers: Mary Lisio, Larry Rapaport, Ridley Scott, Teri Weinberg, David W. Zucker
“Phil Spector” (HBO)
Producers: Michael Hausman, Barry Levinson
“Top of the Lake” (Sundance Channel)
Producers: Philippa Campbell, Jane Campion, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman

Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama:
“Breaking Bad” (AMC) * WINNER
Producers: Melissa Bernstein, Sam Catlin, Bryan Cranston, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Mark Johnson, Stewart Lyons, Michelle MacLaren, George Mastras, Diane Mercer, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett
“Downton Abbey” (ITV – United Kingdom;  PBS – United States)
Producers: Julian Fellowes, Nigel Marchant, Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Producers: David Benioff, Bernadette Caulfield, Frank Doelger, D.B. Weiss, Christopher Newman, Greg Spence, Carolyn Strauss
“Homeland” (Showtime)
Producers: Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick, Meredith Stiehm
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
Producers: Joshua Donen, David Fincher, Karyn McCarthy, John Melfi, Eric Roth, Kevin Spacey, Beau Willimon

Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy:
“30 Rock” (NBC)
Producers: Jack Burditt, Robert Carlock, Luke Del Tredici , Tina Fey, Matt Hubbard , Marci Klein, Jerry Kupfer , Colleen McGuinness, Lorne Michaels, David Miner, Dylan Morgan , Jeff Richmond , Josh Siegal, Tracey Wigfield
“Arrested Development” (Netflix)
Producers: John Foy, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Mitchell Hurwitz, Dean Lorey, Troy Miller, Richard Rosenstock, Jim Vallely
“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
Producers: Bill Prady, Chucke Lorre, Steve Molaro, Faye Oshima Belyeu
“Modern Family” (ABC) *WINNER
Producers: Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeffrey Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker
“Veep” (HBO)
Producers: Simon Blackwell, Christopher Godsick, Armando Iannucci, Stephanie Laing, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Frank Rich, Tony Roche

Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television:
“30 for 30″ (ESPN)
Producers:  Bill Simmons, John Dahl, Erin Leyden, Connor Schell
“Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” (CNN) * WINNER
Producers: Anthony Bourdain, Christopher Collins, Lydia Tenaglia, Sandra Zweig
“Duck Dynasty” (A&E Networks)
Producers: Deirdre Gurney, Scott Gurney, Mike Odair, Hugh Peterson, Adam Saltzberg, Charlie Van Vleet
“Inside The Actors Studio” (Bravo)
Producers: James Lipton, Shawn Tesser, Jeff Wurtz
“Shark Tank” (ABC)
Producers: Mark Burnett, Becky Blitz, Bill Gaudsmith, Yun Lingner, Clay Newbill, Jim Roush, Laura Skowlund, Max Swedlow

Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television:
“The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central) *WINNER
Producers: Meredith Bennett, Stephen T. Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Matt Lappin, Emily Lazar, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Tom Purcell, Jon Stewart
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC)
Producers: David Craig, Ken Crosby, Doug DeLuca, Gary Greenberg, Erin Irwin, Jimmy Kimmel, Jill Leiderman, Molly McNearney, Tony Romero, Jason Schrift, Jennifer Sharron, Josh Weintraub
“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” (NBC)
Producers: Hillary Hunn, Lorne Michaels, Gavin Purcell, Michael Shoemaker
“Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO)
Producers: Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Marc Gurvitz, Dean Johnsen, Bill Maher, Billy Martin, Matt Wood
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Producers: Ken Aymong, Erin Doyle, Steve Higgins, Erik Kenward, Lorne Michaels, Lindsay Shookus

Outstanding Producer of Competition Television:
“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Elise Doganieri, Jonathan Littman, Bertram van Munster, Mark Vertullo
“Dancing With The Stars” (ABC)
Producers: Ashley Edens-Shaffer, Conrad Green, Joe Sungkur
“Project Runway” (Lifetime)
Producers: Jane Cha Cutler, Desiree Gruber, Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Jonathan Murray, Sara Rea, Colleen Sands
“Top Chef” (Bravo)
Producers: Tom Colicchio, Daniel Cutforth, Casey Kriley, Jane Lipsitz, Erica Ross, Nan Strait, Andrew Wallace
“The Voice” (NBC) *WINNER
Producers: Stijn Bakkers, Mark Burnett, John de Mol, Chad Hines, Lee Metzger, Audrey Morrissey, Jim Roush, Kyra Thompson, Nicolle Yaron, Mike Yurchuk, Amanda Zucker

Outstanding Sports Program:
“24/7″ (HBO)
“Hard Knocks” (HBO)
“Monday Night Football” (ESPN)
“Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” (HBO)
“SportsCenter” (ESPN) *WINNER

Outstanding Children’s Program:
“Dora the Explorer” (Nickelodeon)
“iCarly” (Nickelodeon)
“Phineas and Ferb” (Disney Channel)
“Sesame Street” (PBS) *WINNER
“SpongeBob Squarepants” (Nickelodeon)

Outstanding Digital Series:
“Burning Love”
“Epic Rap Battles of History”
“The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”
“Video Game High School”
“Wired: What’s Inside” *WINNER

  • astroguy54

    The Oscar goes to 12 Yeas a Slave. Unless the Academy is finally aging out, they usually go for historical dramas over all else. Lincoln didn’t win last year because it was another Spielberg mess. Argo won because of something totally unrelated to the race when Silver Linings Playbook deserved the trophy.

    • fred

      I hope you’re right, because I truly think that “12 Years a Slave” deserves to win. If voters take to it like they did “Schindler’s List” take for instance, than it should be the big winner come Oscar night.

  • Mary

    It’s tied, not tyed.