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Next Stop Oscar After ‘La La Land’ Wins PGA Prize

Variety logo Variety 1/29/2017 Kristopher Tapley
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With “La La Land” claiming the Producers Guild of America’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award Saturday night, the film seems primed for Oscar glory, just like 19 of the previous 27 winners of the prize.

But recent history is most notable here. Both the PGA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences implemented the preferential balloting system in 2009, when each organization expanded its field of nominees. The PGA is the only other organization to use this process, which calls for voters to rank the nominees, with the winner determined by an instant-runoff procedure.

Every PGA winner under this system had gone on to win best picture until last year, when “The Big Short” deviated from the pattern. However, over the last eight years, PGA nominees and best picture nominees have differed by two-to-three films. This year was the first time since the implementation of preferential balloting that all best picture nominees were also nominated by the PGA.

The one PGA contender that didn’t make the cut for Oscar was “Deadpool.”

Observing how a film performs on a preferential ballot can be instructive. The “Big Short” PGA surprise felt like a shift in an already tight race. But as we saw, it’s not an exact science — different voting bodies, usually different nominees, etc. “Spotlight” ultimately won the Oscar in a nail-biter.

There has been no such uncertainty in this year’s race, however. Damien Chazelle’s musical still feels like it will tap dance its way through Oscar night.

The film also won the American Cinema Editors’ comedy prize at the ACE Eddie Awards Friday night. Stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are up for Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday. “La La Land” has received mentions from 11 guilds and industry groups, more than any other film in the race.

Elsewhere at the PGA Awards, “Zootopia” won the animated feature prize, while “O.J.: Made in America” took the documentary honor. “Stranger Things,” “Atlanta” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” won in the television categories.

Full list of winners here.

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