After PGA Awards win, the Oscar for best picture is ‘Oppenheimer’s’ to lose

Cillian Murphy in "Oppenheimer."
Cillian Murphy in “Oppenheimer,” which won the Producer Guild’s top honor on Sunday.
(Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Pictures)

Christopher Nolan’s big-canvas biopic “Oppenheimer” won the Producers Guild of America’s top honor Sunday night, a day after it took the ensemble prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Nolan won the Directors Guild of America’s feature-film directing award two weeks ago.

A group of film producers pose for a photograph.
Producers James Wilson (“The Zone of Interest”), Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”), Daniel Lupi (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) and Mark Johnson (“The Holdovers”), all nominated for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for outstanding producer of theatrical motion pictures, pictured at the PGA Awards breakfast on Saturday. “Oppenheimer” went on to win the guild’s top prize.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“Oppenheimer” thus became the 11th movie to sweep the Producers, Directors and Screen Actors Guild awards, establishing it as the overwhelming favorite to win the best picture Oscar on March 10. Of the 10 previous films to hit that awards season trifecta — a list that includes “No Country for Old Men,” “Argo” and last year’s winner, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” — only one, “Apollo 13,” failed to win the Oscar.

Emma Thomas, who has produced all of Nolan’s films, accepted the honor onstage with fellow producer Charles Roven and Nolan, her husband, whom she called the “best producing partner you could hope for.”

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” which won seven awards last weekend at the animation celebration Annie Awards, took the PGA’s animated theatrical feature honor.


“American Symphony,” Matthew Heineman’s look at musician Jon Batiste trying to realize a professional dream while his wife, author Suleika Jaouad, battles leukemia, won the documentary award. The win was a bit of an upset, but still less surprising than the film’s omission from the Oscars’ documentary feature category. The last PGA documentary winner that wasn’t nominated at the Oscars was 2019’s “Apollo 11.”

On the TV side, “The Bear” picked up another prize, winning the Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television — Comedy, following honors from the Emmys and the SAG Awards. “Last Week Tonight,” another Emmy perennial, took the live entertainment, variety, sketch, stand-up and talk award. “Beef,” which has vacuumed up nearly every limited series prize in recent weeks, followed suit with the PGA. Same with “Succession” for TV drama.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” won for game and competition TV, and “Welcome to Wrexham” prevailed for nonfiction TV. The award for televised or streaming movie went to “Black Mirror: Beyond the Sea.”

A group of film producers pose for a photo.
Producers Ben LeClair (“American Fiction”), Emma Stone (“Poor Things”), Christine Vachon (“Past Lives”), Margot Robbie (“Barbie”) and Charles Roven (“Oppenheimer”), nominated for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for outstanding producer of theatrical motion pictures, at the PGA breakfast on Saturday. Roven, along with Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, won the “Oppenheimer.”
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Martin Scorsese, whose latest film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” earned a PGA nomination, received the David O. Selznick Achievement Award. After a Guillermo del Toro introduction, Scorsese took the stage to a long standing ovation — and the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” the song he used in “Goodfellas,” “Casino” and “The Departed.”

Scorsese regaled the audience with memories of attending the Producers Guild Awards in 1965, when he won best student film for “It’s Not Just You, Murray,” which he made while attending New York University. Alfred Hitchcock accepted a career award that night, and Scorsese recalled some of the advice he imparted.


“He said, ‘First, when you receive such an award, you want to pinch yourself to make sure it isn’t being made posthumously,’” Scorsese remembered.

Gail Berman received the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television following a warm introduction from Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which Berman executive produced.

“Not a single person on this earth was interested in buying that television show, but I just couldn’t ignore my gut that there was something unique there,” Berman said onstage, recalling “Buffy.”

Charles D. King, a former WME partner and founder of the multi-platform media company MACRO, was given the Milestone Award, becoming the first Black person to receive the honor. Filmmaker Ryan Coogler said of King: “To know him is to know he’s a rock. Anything he has in his mind he’s going to will it to exist.”

Stephanie Allain and Donald De Line smile side by side.
PGA board presidents Stephanie Allain and Donald De Line.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“I stand on the shoulders of all the incredible producers, executives, my parents and our ancestors who kicked down doors, made sacrifices and blazed a trail for me to be able to do what I’m blessed to do,” King said, accepting the honor.

King’s MACRO, along with Blumhouse, Legendary and Berlanti Productions, were announced as the first companies to sign on board a PGA initiative, unveiled during the ceremony, to secure health benefits for qualified producers working full-time in film and television. Producers are the only union members on film sets without guaranteed healthcare. “Until now,” PGA president Stephanie Allain said, standing alongside co-president Donald De Line.