Award season is now in full swing, with the Producer’s Guild of America Awards recently announcing their nominees for all of their categories. The PGA Awards are often a key indicator for what we can expect from the Oscars Best Picture category, and highlights the work in both TV and Film. Because this particular award show is more of a behind the scenes kind of honor, you won’t see any performance based categories in the nominations. Like all award ceremonies in the entertainment industry, the recent announcements aren’t without a bit of controversy. Selections often exclude predicted shoe ins and include some shocking productions no one had on their radar. So let’s look at some of the biggest surprises, snubs, and controversies in some of the selected categories.
There are a lot to choose from, but let’s just start with the most obvious and most likely to cross over into larger award shows (like the Oscars) and look at the Best Picture category. The actual title for this category is Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. And it’s important to remember that this guild honors producers, not necessarily performers, directors or other facets of filmmaking. It is very specific, but also serves as indicator for what may be coming down the line. Given the nominees, I think we’re getting a snapshot of the actual Best Picture Nominations for the upcoming Oscars.
The PGA Nominees for Best Motion Picture includes all of the heavy hitters; “Westside Story,” “Belfast,” “The Power of the Dog,” “Dune“ among others. The biggest surprise (and it’s a good one) is the inclusion of “Tick, Tick…Boom.” While Andrew Garfield’s performance and Lin Manuel Miranda’s directorial work have been front runners for Oscar inclusion, many media members and critics have all but auctioned off “Tick, Tick…Boom!” from their Best Picture nomination lists. It still may not crack the top ten down the road, but seeing it on the PGA list in lieu of say, “House of Gucci” is actually refreshing. The other surprise is dark horse “Coda,” the Sundance darling that continues to stick around despite most people continually counting it out. Of all the nominees, I think these two may be the ones that get bumped when the Oscar nods come out, but it’s a nice surprise to see them both land a PGA nomination.
There aren’t too many other surprises, as most of the categories seem to get more right than wrong this time around. The only category that seems to contain both snubs and surprises is the Award for Outstanding Producer of Televised or Streamed Motion Pictures. In other words, films released exclusively on streaming or made for tv. This category includes films like “8-Bit Christmas,” “Come From Away,” and “Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflower.” I don’t know if I can offer up alternative examples of streaming films that deserve to be here, but something about this entire list doesn’t sit right with me. With the intense rise in streaming over the last few years, and the growing number of films released directly to those services, I find it hard to believe that this is the best of the best. It’s also surprising that the nomination list includes two Christmas movies, a broadway musical and a documentary. It’s strange collection of films, and marks the most surprising category on the list.
Where there’s awards, there’s controversy. And the PGA decided to go for broke this year by nominating Dave Chappelle’s “Closer“ for Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment, Variety, Sketch, Standup & Talk Television. The argument is that is sports one of the best produced specials of the year, which is what the PGA focuses on instead of performance and content. But this feels like a bold step in the wrong direction. Regardless of how you feel about Chappelle’s special, including here among the likes of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” just doesn’t seem to fit or sit well with most. Content is important, and ignoring in completely in lieu of production value is inviting controversy when there doesn’t need to be one.
There are countless other sketch shows and stand up specials that were released in 2021 that could just as easily claim that spot. Production value for almost everything in this category has been stellar, and while I’m not necessarily a cancel Dave Chappelle advocate, I certainly think that giving him a nomination for disparaging ideas about marginalized communities is a bad look for the PGA. I can live with my favorite film or tv show being absent. But including a special that has clearly stirred the pot for the worst is a less forgivable.
Luckily there weren’t too many issues I had with the nominations this year. One strange category and one controversial inclusion is basically batting 1000 as far as award shows go, so I gotta give PGA some credit. They also gave “Squid Game” its due, so that makes me happy.
The PGA Award Show will take place on March 19th, 2022. You can check out all of the nominees for all categories here.
What do you think about the PGA Nominations this year?