‘The Big Short’ Wins Producers Guild Award, Grabs Lead in Oscar Race

“Transparent,” “Game of Thrones” and “Fargo” win top TV honors

"The Big Short" producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner
"The Big Short" producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner (Getty Images)

“The Big Short” has been named the best-produced film of 2015 by the Producers Guild of America, making the financial crisis dramedy the presumptive favorite in a tightly contested race for the Best Picture Oscar.

Since the Academy and the PGA expanded from five to 10 nominees, no film has won the Oscar without first winning the Producers Guild Award. (The closest thing to an exception came when “Gravity” tied with “12 Years a Slave” at the PGA, but lost to “12 Years” at the Oscars.)

The Producers Guild counts its final ballots using the preferential system, making it the only major guild to use the same system as the Oscars for its top award. In recent years, it has been by far the most reliable of the guilds in predicting Oscar success, which means that Adam McKay‘s adaptation of Michael Lewis‘ book about the housing collapse of 2008 now has a surprising leg up in its battle with “Spotlight,” “The Revenant” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

While the Paramount film won raves and garnered guild nominations after it began screening very late in the year, it lost the best-comedy Golden Globe to “The Martian,” and questions remained about whether the comedy-laced ensemble film from the director of “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights” had the heft to win the big awards. The PGA win answers that question in a convincing fashion.

And for “Spotlight,” which had won the lion’s share of critics’ awards, including the Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Movie Award, the night had to be disquietingly similar to what “The Social Network” and “Boyhood” went through when they won most of the critics’ honors before the PGA turned the momentum in favor of eventual Oscar winners “Birdman” and “The King’s Speech.”

In her acceptance speech, “Big Short” producer Dede Gardner said she wanted to deal with “the elephant in the room,” and addressed the diversity issue by saying, “We have privilege in our hands as storytellers. We need to tell stories that reflect our world.”

With the Motion Picture Academy changing rules on Friday to encourage diversity, the topic was frequently addressed during the show, starting when Producers Guild Awards co-chair Michael De Luca mentioned AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and said, “We’re lucky to have her as a leader, and no one is working harder to make the world a fairer and better place.”

The award for animated feature went to Pixar’s “Inside Out,” while the documentary honor went to “Amy.”

In the television categories, “Transparent” and “Game of Thrones” won for episodic comedy and drama, respectively, while “Fargo” was honored as the year’s best long-form TV program.

Other awards went to “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” “The Voice,” “The Jinx,” “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” “Sesame Street” and “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

The PGA also gave out a number of honorary awards. Fox’s Jim Gianopulos received the Milestone Award, “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman the David O. Selznick Achivement Award, Shonda Rhimes the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television, Industrial Light & Magic the Visionary Vanguard Award and “The Hunting Ground” the Stanley Kramer Award.

As part of that last presentation, Lady Gaga performed the Oscar nominated song “Til It Happens to You,” which she sings in “The Hunting Ground,” at the PGA ceremony.

The ceremony took place at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, and was hosted by Jane Lynch.

The winners:

Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures: “The Big Short”
Producers: Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner

Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures: “Inside Out”
Producer: Jonas Rivera

Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures: “Amy”
Producer: James Gay-Rees m

Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television: “Fargo” (Season 2)
Producers: Noah Hawley, John Cameron, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Warren Littlefield, Kim Todd

Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama: “Game of Thrones” (Season 5)
Producers: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Bernadette Caulfield, Frank Doelger, Carolyn Strauss, Bryan Cogman, Lisa McAtackney, Chris Newman, Greg Spence

Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy: “Transparent” (Season 1)
Producers: Jill Soloway, Andrea Sperling, Victor Hsu, Nisha Ganatra, Rick Rosenthal, Bridget Bedard

Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television: “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” (Season 1)
Producers: Marc Smerling, Andrew Jarecki, Jason Blum

Outstanding Producer of Competition Television: “The Voice” (Seasons 7 and 8)
Producers: Audrey Morrissey, Mark Burnett, John de Mol, Marc Jansen, Lee Metzger, Chad Hines, Jim Roush, Kyra Thompson, Mike Yurchuk, Amanda Zucker, Carson Daly

Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (Season 2)
Producers: Tim Carvell, John Oliver, Liz Stanton

Outstanding Sports Program: “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”

Outstanding Digital Series: “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”

Outstanding Children’s Program: “Sesame Street”