Ben Affleck Political Thriller Tops PGA Awards + Sundance Double Winner Surprise

PGA Awards 2013 winners

Update: Ben Affleck's Argo wins Theatrical Motion Picture PGA Award. Argo producer Ben Affleck tells Steve Pond “I had totally convinced myself they were going to read another name.” Affleck's fellow Argo producers are George Clooney and Grant Heslov.

The Producers Guild of America is currently handing out its PGA Awards in a handful of film and television categories. Contenders for the PGA Award in the Theatrical Feature category include Ben Affleck's Argo, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild, Sam Mendes' Skyfall, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Ang Lee's Life of Pi, and David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook.

Robert De Niro, one of the Oscar-nominated stars of The Weinstein Company's Silver Linings Playbook was one of the presenters of the Milestone Award to Bob and Harvey Weinstein. As quoted by TheWrap's Steve Pond on Twitter, De Niro explained, “When (the Weinsteins) came to me with a movie about mental illness, I thought, which brother do they want me to play?” As for fellow Weinstein admirer Quentin Tarantino, whose Django Unchained was also distributed by TWC and whose Pulp Fiction was distributed by the Weinsteins' Miramax, he let the crowd know that “As far as I'm concerned, [Harvey Weinstein] is the only game in town.”

In his acceptance speech, The Only Game in Town called Steven Spielberg's 20th Century Fox-distributed Lincoln a masterpiece, and added: “For everybody whose movie I didn't acquire over the years, I want to tell you it was a lapse of taste.”

A little while ago, Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables) handed the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television to the producing team of Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan.

Fellner and Bevan are (at least partly) responsible for a whole array of movies, including Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz's About a Boy; Joel and Ethan Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Big Lebowski, and Burn After Reading; Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice; and PGA Award nominee Tom Hooper's Les Misérables. But why would the two movie producers get a TV award? Answer: The Tudors.

Malik Bendjelloul's Academy Award contender Searching for Sugar Man, about the search for '70s rocker Rodriguez, was the winner of the PGA Award in the Documentary Feature category. (See also: “Searching for Sugar Man Top Awards Season Documentary.)

Among the other winners of the competitive PGA Awards 2013 are Wreck-It Ralph in the Animated Feature category; Homeland in the Television Drama category; American Masters in the Non-Fiction TV category; Modern Family in the Television Comedy category; Game Change in the Longform Television category; and Sesame Street in the Children's programming category.

PGA Awards presenters

PGA Awards 2013 presenters include Marlo Thomas; Chris Tucker; Damian Lewis; Jonah Hill; Julianna Margulies; The Weinstein Company-distributed Silver Linings Playbook's Bradley Cooper, who presented the Stanley Kramer Award to The Weinstein Company-distributed documentary Bully, whose director, Lee Hirsch, thanked Harvey Weinstein for “championing this film and being a mentor to me”; and Jennifer Garner, who handed the David O. Selznick Award to recently announced Star Wars VII director J.J. Abrams.

Ben Affleck Argo Tony Mendez

PGA Awards: Ben Affleck & Steven Spielberg Movies Among Top Contenders

The Producers Guild of America's PGA Awards 2013 winners will be announced on Saturday, Jan. 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.

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 $160 million 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.”

Argo Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez photo: Warner Bros.

Silver Linings Playbook: The case for The Weinstein Company PGA Award 'threepeat'

The case for Silver Linings Playbook is The Weinstein Company itself, the domestic distributor of the last two PGA Award winners: Michel Hazanavicius' French-made silent comedy-drama The Artist and Tom Hooper's British-made The King's Speech, both of which went on to win Best Picture Oscars. (Image: Silver Linings Playbook Bradley Cooper.)

I should add that neither The Artist nor The King's Speech were “likely” PGA Award winners. Last year, Alexander Payne's The Descendants, Tate Taylor's The Help, and Martin Scorsese's Hugo would have been more to the (potentially 5,400) PGA Award voters' tastes; the year before, David Fincher's The Social Network had been the overwhelming favorite. Also worth noting: initially perceived as a box office disappointment, Silver Linings Playbook has earned $56 million to date in the U.S. and Canada and could theoretically surpass the $100 million milestone by Oscar time.

PGA Awards 2013 winner?

So, who'll win the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award 2013? Considering that the “Best Picture” PGA Award winner will be chosen by way of the preferential voting system – i.e., several rounds until the eventual winner reaches more than 50 percent of the vote – I'm betting on Argo.

Why Argo? In all honesty, chiefly because of the well-regarded film's recent momentum. Additionally, Argo would be a likely consensus winner because of its theme, its critical reception, and the presence of Ben Affleck and George Clooney as two of the film's producers. (The third one is Grant Heslov.)

Having said that, both Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln are equally strong contenders, with Zero Dark Thirty a little ways behind them.

PGA Awards 2013: Less likely possibilities

A fifth, though much less likely option would be Ang Lee's Life of Pi. A win by either Beasts of the Southern Wild or Les Misérables would be a major upset. As for Django Unchained, Moonrise Kingdom, and Skyfall, they'll have to content themselves with the “honor of being nominated.”

Other theatrical PGA Awards 2013 nominees

Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, Rise of the Guardians, and Wreck-It Ralph are in the running in the Animated Feature category. A People Uncounted, The Gatekeepers, The Island President, The Other Dream Team, and Searching for Sugar Man are the contenders in the Documentary Feature category.

I'm betting on the critically acclaimed ParaNorman and on Searching for Sugar Man as the winners. Strong runners-up: Frankenweenie and The Gatekeepers.

Additionally, special PGA Awards 2013 recipients include Bob and Harvey Weinstein (Milestone Award), future Star Wars VII director J.J. Abrams (Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television), Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (David O. Selznick Achievement Award), Russell Simmons (Visionary Award), and the Weinstein Company-distributed documentary Bully (Stanley Kramer Award).

The PGA Awards 2013 ceremony will be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Presenters include Ben Affleck's wife Jennifer Garner, Nicole Kidman, Bryan Cranston, Marlo Thomas, Jonah Hill, Julianna Margulies, Jessica Alba, Kerry Washington, Damian Lewis, Quentin Tarantino, L.L. Cool J, Robert Rodriguez, and Chris Tucker.

Silver Linings Playbook Bradley Cooper photo: The Weinstein Company.

Sundance winners

Sundance Film Festival 2013 winners here

US Dramatic Grand Prize: Fruitvale

US Doc Grand Prize: Blood Brother

US Dramatic Dir.: Jill Soloway for Afternoon Delight

US Doc Dir.: Cutie and the Boxer

US Screenwriting Award: Lake Bell for Inner World

US Doc Editing: Gideon's Army

US Dramatic Cinematography: Bradford Young for Ain't Their Bodies Saints and Mother of George

US Doc Cinematography: Dirty Wars

US Dramatic Sound Design: Upstream Color

US Dramatic Acting: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley The Spectacular Now

Special Jury Prize US Doc: Inequality for All and American Promise

Audience Award US Dramatic: Fruitvale by Ryan Coogler

Audience Award US Doc: Blood Brother by Steve Hoover

Audience Award World Cinema Dramatic: Metro Manila

Audience Award World Cinema Documentary: The Square

Audience Award Best of Next: This Is Martin Bonner

World Cinema Dramatic: Jiseul

World Cinema Dramatic Dir.: Sebastian Silva for Crystal Fairy

World Cinema Dramatic Screenwriting: Wajma: An Afghan Love Story

World Cinema Dramatic Cinematography: Michael Englert Lasting

World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Prize: Circles

World Cinema Documentary: A River Changes Course

World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

World Cinema Doc Cinematography: Who Is Dayani Cristal?

World Cinema Doc Editing: The Summit

World Cinema Doc Dir.: The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear

Alfred P. Sloan Award: Computer Chess

Short Film Animation: Irish Folk Furniture

Short Film NonFiction: Skinny Grove

Short Film International Fiction: The Date

Short Film US Fiction: Whiplash

Short Film Grand Jury Prize: The Whistle

Short Film Audience Award: Catnip: Egress to Oblivion?

The Sundance Film Festival winners will be announced in about one hour. We'll be posting the list of winners here, in real time. (That is, if we're able to type fast enough.)

Among this year's Sundance movie hits – in varying degrees – are The Way, Way Back, featuring Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette and Steve Carell; The East, with Brit Marling, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson, and Alexander Skarsgård; The Spectacular Now, with Miles Teller; and Lovelace, with Amanda Seyfried as '70s porn star Linda Lovelace, Peter Sarsgaard as her abusive husband, and an all-star cast that includes James Franco and Sharon Stone.

Earlier today, it was announced that Kentaro Hagiwara, who's to direct Spectacled Tiger, was the winner of the 2013 Sundance/NHK International Filmmaker Award. Created in 1996, the award “recognizes and supports a visionary filmmaker on his or her next film.”

A graduate of Los Angeles' Art Center College of Design, Hagiwara wrote and directed the short film Super Star. Spectacled Tiger will be his first feature film. Co-written by Kyohta Fujimoto, Spectacled Tiger is described as “a romantic, coming-of-age film about a high-school trivia quiz wunderkind, who starts questioning his 'black or white' worldview after becoming enamored of a new girl in school.

Among the Sundance hits of years past that went on to become mainstream – or borderline mainstream – hits are Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is up for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Director; James Marsh's Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire; and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' Little Miss Sunshine, a sleeper box office hit that won the Producers Guild Award and earned multiple Oscar nominations.

Watch Sundance Film Festival Awards online

Watch online the Sundance Film Festival 2013 Awards ceremony right here. (Please scroll down to check out the live feed.) The Sundance 2013 livestream should begin at 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET. (Image: Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace in Lovelace.)

Among this year's most-talked about Sundance 2013 movies are the following:

Lovelace

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace, a former porn superstar – of the epoch-making Deep Throat – who later became a Born Again Christian. The focal point of Lovelace is the abusive relationship between the actress and her first husband, Chuck Traynor. Needless to say, the abusive one was Traynor, played by perennial movie scumbag Peter Sarsgaard. Also not worth mentioning – but I'll mention it anyway – is that Amanda Seyfried looks nothing at all like Linda Lovelace. (Check out Linda Lovelace photo.)

The Lovelace cast includes James Franco, Sharon Stone, Chloë Sevigny, Eric Roberts, Bobby Canavale, Adam Brody, Hank Azaria, Juno Temple, Wes Bentley, and Robert Patrick.

The Spectacular Now

James Ponsoldt's The Spectacular Now, written by (500) Days of Summer's Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, and starring Miles Teller as a seemingly carefree 18-year-old – one with a drinking problem. Also in the cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler, and Brie Larson.

The Way, Way Back

The Way, Way Back, directed and written by two of The Descendants' Oscar-winning co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (Alexander Payne was the third scribe). The Way, Way Back tells the story of a young man (Liam James) at odds with his family from hell, which includes mother Toni Collette and her asshole boyfriend Steve Carell. Also in the cast: AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Amanda Peet, Allison Janney, and Maya Rudolph, in addition to Faxon and Rash in small roles.

The East

Zal Batmanglij's The East, featuring Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgård, and Brit Marling. In The East, Marling plays an FBI agent who infiltrates – and eventually becomes entangled with – a group of eco-terrorists. Screenplay by Batmanglij and leading lady Marling. Also in the cast: Patricia Clarkson, Shiloh Fernandez, Toby Kebbell, and Julia Ormond.

Watch the Sundance Film Festival Awards 2013 ceremony below. The dead feed should miraculously come to life in about an hour or so.

Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace in Lovelace photo: Sundance Film Festival.

“Watch Sundance Film Festival Awards Online” addendum: No longer working, the Sundance Film Festival Awards livestream has been removed.

Oscar 2013 dates and voting schedule

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the schedule for the final round of voting for the 2013 Academy Awards. Academy members will begin voting for the Oscar 2013 winners beginning at 8 a.m. PT on Friday, February 8. Balloting will come to a close at 5 p.m. PT on Tuesday, February 19. (Image: Leonardo DiCaprio Django Unchained.)

In one interesting sign of “voting flexibility,” the Academy will allow members who voted online during the nominations round to use paper ballots in the final round, if they so wish. Those Academy members who registered to vote online may ask for a paper ballot by contacting the Academy's Membership Department by Friday, February 1. During the nominations round of voting, there were widespread reports of online voting woes.

Oscar 2013: Increasing 'member engagement'

According to the Academy's press release, “several voting resources will once again be available to members.” Those include a 24-hour call center and “assisted voting stations” in Los Angeles, New York, and London.

According to a quote found in the Academy's press release, AMPAS Chief Operating Officer Ric Robertson claims that one of the Academy's “basic goals” is to “increase member engagement. Despite some challenges, more members voted for this year's nominations than they have in the past several years.” Needless to say, no actual figures or percentages were provided.

Oscar 2013 nominations

This year's nine Best Picture nominees are the following: Michael Haneke's Amour, Ben Affleck's Argo, Tom Hooper's Les Misérables, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Ang Lee's Life of Pi, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, and Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild.

In the Best Foreign Language Film category, the nominees are Michael Haneke's Amour, Austria; Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg's Kon-Tiki, Norway; Pablo Larraín's No, Chile; Nikolaj Arcel's A Royal Affair, Denmark; and Kim Nguyen's War Witch, Canada.

The Best Director nominees are Ang Lee, Benh Zeitlin, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Haneke. [Text amended. Please see comments below.]

In the acting categories, the nominees are the following:

  • Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Emmanuelle Riva, Amour; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Naomi Watts, The Impossible.
  • Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln; Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master; Denzel Washington, Flight.
  • Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, Argo; Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook; Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln; Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained.
  • Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, The Master; Sally Field, Lincoln; Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables; Helen Hunt, The Sessions; Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook.

The 2013 Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. Seth MacFarlane will host the proceedings.

Leonardo DiCaprio Django Unchained photo: The Weinstein Company.

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4 Comments to Ben Affleck Political Thriller Tops PGA Awards + Sundance Double Winner Surprise

  1. Karl

    I don't think there's going to be a “threepeat”. The Weinstein Company has become the bullies of the awards season and I think people are getting tired of them. They got some Academy members to vote for their film but I don't think there'll be a “consensus vote” to select “Silver Linings Playbook” as the year's Best Picture. I expect that “Lincoln” or “Argo” will win at the PGA Awards and at the Oscars.

    As for the Weinsteins, they'll have to content themselves with their “Bully” award. How appropriate.

  2. 05

    Naomi Watts deservers the Oscar more than Chastain or the overrated Lawrence in the extremely overrated film 'SLP'

    Mulholland Dr.
    21 Grams
    The Painted Veil
    Eastern Promises
    Mother & Child

    Those are SOME of her outstanding performances!!! What about Chastain and Lawrence???

    And there we have THE IMPOSSIBLE - she was great in it!

    I hope people apretiate the fact she had played other strong roles unlike the other 2 !!!

  3. Andre

    @Natasha

    Anna Robinson got it right. While editing her work, I got it wrong — though I knew better. How could I not, considering the infamous Affleck/Bigelow “snubs”?
    My only excuse is: overworked & overstressed (out).
    Thank you for the correction.

  4. Natasha Resendes

    Ben Affleck is not nominated for Best Director, and you have omitted Ang Lee as well