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PGA Awards: Ben Affleck ARGO, Steven Spielberg LINCOLN Among Top Contenders

Ben Affleck Argo Tony MendezPGA Awards 2013 winner? Ben Affleck's Argo, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln among top contenders

The Producers Guild of America's PGA Awards 2013 winners will be announced on Saturday, January 26. The 10 films nominated for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award are the following: Ben Affleck's Argo, Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, Tom Hooper's Les Misérables, Ang Lee's Life of Pi, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, Sam Mendes' Skyfall, and Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty. (Image: Argo Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez.)

Of those, two titles failed to be shortlisted for the 2013 Best Picture Academy Award: Moonrise Kingdom and Skyfall. Note: The Academy Awards had only nine Best Picture Oscar nominees this year; Michael Haneke's French-language drama Amour is the ninth film in contention. (See also: PGA Awards vs. Best Picture Academy Awards.)

PGA Awards 2013: Four top contenders

There are no less than four top contenders for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award:

  • Argo, co-producer/director/actor Ben Affleck's political thriller about the rescue of several American hostages in Iran, and the Best Picture and Best Director winner at the populist Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards.
  • Lincoln, Steven Spielberg's well-received historical drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis as U.S. president Abraham Lincoln, and the recipient of 12 Oscar nominations – more than any other movie this year.
  • Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal's highly controversial depiction of the U.S. government's hunt for Most Wanted Man Osama bin Laden.
  • Silver Linings Playbook, a feel-good comedy-drama from awards-season pro The Weinstein Company. In addition to a surprising Academy Award nod for director David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook garnered a total of eight Oscar nominations, including recognition in each of the acting categories (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver).

The case for Argo

As mentioned above, Ben Affleck and his movie have won two awards – both at televised (i.e., widely seen) shows sponsored by populist (i.e., crowd-pleasing) organizations: the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Affleck has been a movie star for about 15 years, has died the professional death with Gigli, and has been resurrected by way of his work behind the camera in movies such as Gone Baby Gone and The Town. Sympathy for (director) Affleck having been bypassed by the Academy Awards is another major plus. And so is Argo's $115 million domestic gross – particularly impressive for a fact-based political thriller.

The case for Lincoln

Steven Spielberg has directed what is probably his best-received movie since at least Saving Private Ryan in 1998 or, perhaps even going all the way back to Schindler's List in 1993. Both movies, I should add, took home the PGA Award. The fact that Lincoln has already taken in more than $160m at the domestic box office is another plus. (If Spielberg wins again this year, he'll break his own record.)

The case for Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow's political thriller remains a hot news topic. (Admittedly, the "torture issue" could work against the film.) As a plus, Zero Dark Thirty topped the North American box office after going into wide release two weeks ago. And many found outrageous the Academy's Directors Branch's Bigelow "snub."

["Top Contenders for PGA Awards 2013: Ben Affleck Argo, Steven Spielberg Lincoln" continues on the next page. See link below.]

Argo Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez photo: Warner Bros.

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