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PGA Awards: 'Compton,' 'Mad Max' and 'Spotlight' make the cut; 'Carol' and 'Room' are left out

PGA Awards: 'Compton,' 'Mad Max' and 'Spotlight' make the cut; 'Carol' and 'Room' are left out
PGA Awards best picture nominees include "The Martian." (Giles Keyte / 20th Century Fox)

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" probably won't be earning a best picture Oscar nomination. Same deal for Quentin Tarantino's latest, "The Hateful Eight." And well-regarded indies "Carol" and "Room" are going to have to fight to be included, their hopes of a long-shot victory now scuttled.

These are a few of the takeaways from Tuesday's PGA Awards nominations slate. The Producers Guild of America and the Oscars lineups typically match at about an 80% rate, but there is one ironclad certainty: Every best picture Oscar winner has first been PGA-nominated since the Producers Guild began giving out awards in 1990.

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Which means, obviously, that this year's Oscar best picture will almost certainly come from the group of 10 movies the PGA has nominated: "The Big Short," "Bridge of Spies," "Brooklyn," "Ex Machina," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian," "The Revenant," "Sicario," "Spotlight" and "Straight Outta Compton."

The five movies nominated on the animated side: "Anomalisa," "The Good Dinosaur," "Inside Out," "Minions" and "The Peanuts Movie."

In addition to "Star Wars," "The Hateful Eight," "Carol" and "Room," notable contenders left off the PGA list include "Inside Out," "Steve Jobs," "Trumbo" and "Beasts of No Nation."

There is hope for a couple of these films however. The academy last revised the best picture category in 2011, putting the number of nominated films at between five and 10, depending on the level of support. Looking at the two groups' slate of nominees in the ensuing four years shows that Oscar voters have always nominated at least one movie not cited by the PGA.

But trying to find a common thread between the year-to-year differences between the two groups proves fruitless. Sometimes the acacdemy has gone for challenging auteur cinema like Michael Haneke's stunning French-language look at love, "Amour," and Terrence Malick's impressionistic "The Tree of Life." Other years, the choices have veered toward more emotional fare like "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" and "Philomena."

A look at the nominees for both awards over the last four years:

2014

PGA and Oscars: "American Sniper," "Boyhood," "Birdman," "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "The Imitation Game," "The Theory of Everything," "Whiplash"

PGA only: "Foxcatcher," "Gone Girl," "Nightcrawler"

Oscars only: "Selma"

2013

PGA and Oscars: "American Hustle," "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Gravity," "Her," "Nebraska," "12 Years a Slave," "The Wolf of Wall Street"

PGA only: "Blue Jasmine," "Saving Mr. Banks"

Oscars only: "Philomena"

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2012

PGA and Oscars: "Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Les Miserables," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty"

PGA only: "Moonrise Kingdom," "Skyfall"

Oscars only: "Amour"

2011

PGA and Oscars: "The Artist," "The Descendants," "The Help," "Hugo," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "War Horse"

PGA only: "Bridesmaids," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Ides of March"

Oscars only: "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Tree of Life"

What can that history tell us about this year? Five movies seem to have enough votes to secure a best picture Oscar nomination: "Spotlight," "The Big Short," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian" and "The Revenant." The next tier would include "Brooklyn" and "The Bridge of Spies," two movies that should win multiple nominations in other categories.

Then it comes down to how many films the academy's math puts in. If support is splintered, we could see nine or possibly 10 movies nominated for best picture. I'd put "Carol" and "Room" in that group, with the N.W.A biopic "Straight Outta Compton," a movie that many academy members cite as a favorite, looking better and better as a nominee.

As for the PGA's two wild cards: "Ex Machina" could (and probably will) show up for original screenplay, but a best picture nomination seems a stretch for the critically lauded sci-fi indie. With a higher profile, the drug trade thriller "Sicario" might have a better chance, though its inclusion here feels like the "Nightcrawler" nod last year. PGA voters do seem more open to dark themes.

The dark side though will have to wait another year.

Twitter: @glennwhipp

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