‘District 9′ and ‘Star Trek’ join ‘Avatar’ on PGA short list

Jan. 05, 2010 | 6:45 p.m.

Nobody spends more time covering the trophy season in Hollywood and all of its subplots than Tom O’Neil over at The Envelope. Here’s his analysis of this morning’s nominations announcement from the Producers Guild of America, which had a major tilt toward the fanboy universe. 

Spock 

The Producers Guild of America just announced best picture nominees, which follow the Oscars by expanding its contenders’ list to 10. Included are obvious front-runners “Avatar,” “Up in the Air” and “Inglourious Basterds,” but curious omissions include a few films with high Oscar hopes like serious artsy fare “A Serious Man” and “The Messenger” and comedies “The Hangover,” “It’s Complicated” and “Julie & Julia.” The latter PGA snubs aren’t too surprising. Most award groups, sad to say, laugh off comedies, although PGA did nominate “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when it was spurned by Academy members.

Avatar poster French

But the PGA Awards usually skunk sci-fi fare, so the big jaw-droppers on its current list are “District 9” and “Star Trek.”

In past years, four of the five PGA rivals usually aligned with the Oscar list. Only a few times (1992, 1993) did they line up exactly. When nominees differed in the past, the producers, being shrewd business folk, usually preferred blockbusters like “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “The Dark Knight” and animated fare like “Shrek” and “The Incredibles.” (Only once has an animated film ever been nominated for best picture at the Oscars: “Beauty and the Beast.”)

District 9 poster

Never before has the PGA made an exception for sci-fi, though, so Oscarologists now must wonder: Can these repeat at the Academy Awards or are they exceptions here following the PGA’s longtime preference for box-office hits?

In their 20-year history, the PGA Awards have foreseen 13 of Oscar’s eventual best-picture winners, including recent champs “Slumdog Millionaire” and “No Country for Old Men.” However, the previous three PGA winners failed to prevail at the Oscars.

In 2006, the PGA picked “Little Miss Sunshine” over “The Departed.” In 2005, the guild backed “Brokeback Mountain” rather than “Crash,” and in 2004 “The Aviator” soared ahead of “Million Dollar Baby.”

The only year that the producers guild nominees did not include the eventual Oscar winner was back in 1995 when “Braveheart” failed to make the cut and “Apollo 13” took home the Golden Laurel

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Photos: Zachary Quinto in “Star Trek” . Credit: Paramount; Chris Pine. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times.

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