PGA Awards 2018 set for January 20

The Producers Guild of America has carved out its place on the next awards season calendar by setting Saturday, January 20, 2018 as the date for the 29th annual edition of its awards. That is the night before the Screen Actors Guild hands out its prizes. Unlike, the latter, which will air on TNT and TBS, the PGA ceremony is not televised. However, it is an equally important stop on the road to Oscar.

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The PGA Awards has an enviable track record at presaging the eventual Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards. The guild and the academy have agreed on 19 of the most recent 28 Best Picture champs. This year, all nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture number among the 10 PGA contenders; only “Deadpool” was snubbed by the academy. The PGA prize went to “La La Land” while the Oscar was (eventually) won by “Moonlight.”

And while the PGA pick last year — “The Big Short” — was not the best pic according to the academy (that honor went to “Spotlight”), the two groups had agreed for the previous eight years in a row. Of course, the PGA did double its odds in 2013 by declaring an unprecedented tie between “Gravity” and eventual Oscar winner “12 Years a Slave.”

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Key to the import of this precursor prize is that it picks a winner using the same kind of counting as the Oscars — the preferential ballot. While the academy also uses this method to determine nominees in most other races (e.g., acting, directing, writing), the winners of those categories are decided by pure popular vote.

And popular vote was the way the Best Picture winner was decided at the Oscars from 1946 to 2008. The PGA used this system when it began doling out awards in 1989. It previewed the Oscar winner only 13 times in the first 20 years of these kudos.

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