The Producers Guild of America Awards threw another curveball into the unpredictable Oscar race Friday when it unveiled 11 nominees instead of its usual 10 for Best Picture. (See complete list of 2018 PGA nominations). It’s great news for Oscar longshots like “Wonder Woman” and “Molly’s Game,” and further confirmation that dark horse “I, Tonya” is surging in the industry, after it scored a Writers Guild Award nomination Thursday over “The Post.”
But even with an extra nominee, the PGA inevitably snubbed four major contenders who just saw their Oscar stock dwindle. Or did they?
“Darkest Hour”: The PGA Awards like to recognize success and moneymakers — these are producers after all — which is why you’ll find blockbusters and box-office hits in the lineup more often than not that don’t make the Oscar cut (see: “Deadpool” , “Straight Outta Compton” ). “Darkest Hour” has been doing well since going wide on Dec. 22, earning $21.3 million so far, but it was probably too late for an old-fashioned, well-made film like this to build momentum and word of mouth beyond Gary Oldman’s performance. While the makeup of the academy membership is rapidly changing, “Darkest Hour” still has a shot of making the Oscar Best Picture field if it can score a BAFTA bid to stay in the conversation, and if it appeals enough to the old guard who prefers this kind of bait, kind of in the vein of “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (2011), which was also AWOL at PGA but cracked the Oscar shortlist.
“The Florida Project”: Sean Baker‘s ode to childhood on the fringes increasingly seems like just a play for Willem Dafoe in supporting actor. The film obviously could’ve used the PGA boost, but it’s also the one that could brush off the snub the easiest. “The Florida Project” is precisely the type of art-house indie with a rapturous fan base that will mark it No. 1 on Oscar ballots. It could follow the path of another A24 release, “Room”; two years ago, “Room” was MIA on the PGA ballot, but not only did it make the Oscar Best Picture lineup, it also snagged a surprise nod for director Lenny Abrahamson. Don’t be surprised if enough passion votes pulls Baker into the Oscar director top five as well.
“Phantom Thread”: Despite rave reviews and perhaps because of its late December release, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s sartorial drama hasn’t been able to gain much traction with the industry so far, with misses at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, for Daniel Day-Lewis, and the WGA. Like “The Florida Project,” it’ll need those passion No. 1 votes for Oscar, but an Anderson pic hasn’t made a huge splash at the Oscars since “There Will Be Blood” 10 years ago. “Phantom Thread” may just end up with a similar track record to Anderson’s last two films, “The Master” (2012), which only nabbed three acting nominations, and “Inherent Vice” (2014), which was up for costume design and adapted screenplay for Anderson.
“Mudbound”: Like fellow Netflix film “Beasts of No Nation” (2015), Dee Rees‘ sprawling historical drama missed PGA, which does not bode well at all for Oscar. The academy has a well-known Netflix bias, but maybe the PGA does as well. Producers like data and making money, and Netflix’s day-and-date release strategy and reluctance to release streaming views are bound to be frustrating. Netflix might just have to be content this year with hopefully finally breaking into the major categories in adapted screenplay, for Rees and Virgil Williams, and supporting actress for Mary J. Blige.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank Oscar contenders in this and the other top races. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see the other categories. Then take a look at the most up-to-date odds before you make make your Oscar nomination predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.