Does ‘Nomadland’s PGA Win Lock Up the Oscar Race?

Frances McDormand and Chloé Zhao on the set of NOMADLAND — Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Chloé Zhao picked up another major prize this week as she and her producing partners won the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of a Theatrical Motion Picture from the Producers Guild of America. To date, Nomadland has won over 200 awards between guilds, critics’ groups, and festivals.

The PGA win is not only the latest but also the most telling when it comes to where the Academy is headed at next month’s Oscars. The PGA is the only guild outside of AMPAS that selects its top award by preferential ballot. We’ll address the concept of the “lock” in an upcoming article, but this may be the closest to a “lock” any film has achieved in a Best Picture race in a very long time. As Zhao and her team continue through the season, it remains to be seen whether any studio or film can put up enough of a challenge to stop what currently feels inevitable.

There are still four and a half weeks to go and voters don’t have ballots in hand yet. So yes, in theory, there is still a lot that can happen. Nomadland fended off six of its Best Picture competitors this week, but with The Father not nominated by the PGA and Borat, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and One Night in Miami not nominated by the Academy, there’s no telling where those votes go. Surely they won’t all join the caravan for Nomadland. We’ll watch what happens over the next few weeks and whether any momentum shifts for Promising Young Woman, Judas and the Black Messiah, or The Father.

Another race that seems as close to locked up as it can be is Animated Feature, where the Producers Guild added to the tally Pixar has amassed with Soul. While there is still a chance Wolfwalkers could make a play, those hopes are growing dimmer by the day.

One upcoming Oscar category that got a bit more interesting was Documentary Feature. The Netflix doc, My Octopus Teacher — which many had counted out of Academy contention — won the PGA award for Documentary Motion Picture. Unlike the other film categories, My Octopus Teacher will only rematch with Amazon’s Time next month, a film that was long considered the frontrunner. As we’ve seen many times over the years, though, being the frontrunner in Doc Feature is frequently not the good news it should be, and this latest win could mean Netflix collects another Academy Award for its excellent documentary slate.

Final Oscar voting opens three weeks from today.

Here is the complete list of winners of the 2021 Producers Guild Awards:

Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures

  • “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – WINNER
    Producers: Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Chloé Zhao
  • “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios)
    Producers: Sacha Baron Cohen, Monica Levinson, Anthony Hines
  • “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros)
    Producers: Charles D. King, Ryan Coogler, Shaka King
  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
    Producers: Denzel Washington, Todd Black
  • “Mank” (Netflix)
    Producers: Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, Douglas Urbanski
  • “Minari” (A24)
    Producer: Christina Oh
  • “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
    Producers: Jess Wu Calder, Keith Calder, Jody Klein
  • “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
    Producers: Josey McNamara, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell
  • “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
    Producers: Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche
  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
    Producers: Marc Platt, Stuart Besser

Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures

  • “Soul” (Disney/Pixar) – WINNER
    Producer: Dana Murray
  • “The Croods: A New Age” (DreamWorks Animation)
    Producer: Mark Swift
  • “Onward” (Disney/Pixar)
    Producer: Kori Rae
  • “Over the Moon” (Netflix)
    Producers: Gennie Rim, Peilin Chou
  • “Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV+/GKIDS)
    Producers: Paul Young, Nora Twomey, Tomm Moore, Stéphan Roelants

Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television

  • “The Crown” (Netflix) – Season 4 – WINNER
    Producers: Peter Morgan, Suzanne Mackie, Stephen Daldry, Andy Harries, Benjamin Caron, Matthew Byam Shaw, Robert Fox, Michael Casey, Andy Stebbing, Martin Harrison, Oona O’Beirn 
  • “Better Call Saul” (AMC) – Season 5
    Producers: eligibility determination pending
  • “Bridgerton” – (Netflix) – Season 1
    Producers: eligibility determination pending
  • “The Mandalorian” (Disney+) – Season 2
    Producers: Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson, Karen Gilchrist, John Bartnicki, Carrie Beck
  • “Ozark” (Netflix) – Season 3
    Producers: Jason Bateman, Chris Mundy, Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams, Patrick Markey, John Shiban, Miki Johnson, Matthew Spiegel, Erin Mitchell, Martin Zimmerman, Peter Thorell

Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Comedy

  • “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV) – Season 6
    Producers: Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy, Andrew Barnsley, Fred Levy, David West Read, Ben Feigin, Michael Short, Kurt Smeaton, Kosta Orfanidis – WINNER
  • “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO) – Season 10
    Producers: eligibility determination pending
  • “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max) – Season 1
    Producers: Greg Berlanti, Kaley Cuoco, Steve Yockey, Meredith Lavender, Marcie Ullin, Sarah Schechter, Suzanne McCormack, Jess Meyer, Raymond Quinlan, Jennifer Lence, Erika Kennair
  • “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+) – Season 1
    Producers: Bill Lawrence, Jason Sudeikis, Jeff Ingold, Bill Wrubel, Liza Katzer, Jane Becker, Jamie Lee, Kip Kroeger, Brendan Hunt, Tina Pawlik, Joe Kelly
  • “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX) – Season 2
    Producers: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Paul Simms, Scott Rudin, Garrett Basch, Eli Bush, Stefani Robinson, Sam Johnson, Marika Sawyer, Derek S. Rappaport

David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited Series Television

  • “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) – WINNER
    Producers: William Horberg, Allan Scott, Scott Frank, Marcus Loges, Mick Aniceto
  • “I May Destroy You” (HBO)
    Producers: eligibility determination pending
  • “Normal People” (Hulu)
    Producers: Lenny Abrahamson, Sally Rooney, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Emma Norton, Anna Ferguson, Catherine Magee
  • “The Undoing” (HBO)
    Producers: Susanne Bier, David E. Kelley, Per Saari, Nicole Kidman, Bruna Papandrea, Stephen Garrett, Celia Costas, Deb Dyer
  • “Unorthodox” (Netflix)
    Producers: Anna Winger, Henning Kamm, Alexa Karolinksi

Outstanding Producer of Televised or Streamed Motion Pictures

  • “Hamilton” (Disney+) – WINNER
  • “Bad Education” (HBO)
  • “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square“ (Netflix)
  • “Jane Goodall: The Hope“ (Nat Geo)
  • “What the Constitution Means To Me“ (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television

  • “The Last Dance” (ESPN) – Season 1 – WINNER
  • “60 Minutes” (CBS) – Season 53
  • “Laurel Canyon” (EPIX)
  • “McMillion$” (HBO) – Season 1
  • “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” (Netflix)

Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television

  • “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO) – Season 7 – WINNER
  • “8:46 – Dave Chappelle (Special)” (Netflix)
  • “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central) – Season 26
  • “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (CBS) – Season 6
  • “Saturday Night Live” (NBC) – Season 46

Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television

  • “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1) – Season 12 – WINNER
  • “The Amazing Race” (CBS) – Season 32
  • “The Masked Singer” (FOX) – Season 3, Season 4
  • “Nailed It!” (Netflix) – Season 4
  • “The Voice” (NBC) – Season 18, Season 19

Outstanding Producer of Documentary Motion Pictures

  • “My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix) – WINNER
  • “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet” (Netflix)
  • “Dick Johnson Is Dead” (Netflix)
  • “Softie” (Icarus Films)
  • “A Thousand Cuts” (PBS)
  • “Time” (Amazon Studios)
  • “The Truffle Hunters” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Outstanding Sports Program

  • “Defying Gravity: The Untold Story of Women’s Gymnastics” (S1) (YouTube) – WINNER
  • “Hard Knocks: Los Angeles” (HBO)
  • “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (S26) (HBO)
  • “Seeing America with Megan Rapinoe” (HBO)
  • “The Shop: Uninterrupted Featuring President Barack Obama” (HBO)

Outstanding Children’s Program

  • “The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special” (HBO Max) – WINNER
  • “Animaniacs” (S1) (Hulu)
  • “Carmen Sandiego” (S3) (Netflix)
  • “Looney Tunes Cartoons” (S1) (HBO Max)
  • “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (S7) (Disney+)

Outstanding Short Form Program

  • “Carpool Karaoke: The Series” (S3) (Apple TV) – WINNER
  • “Better Call Saul Employee Training: Legal Ethics with Kim Wexler” (S3) (AMC)
  • “Between The Scenes – The Daily Show” (S5) (Comedy Central)
  • “Inside Pixar: Inspired” (S1) (Disney+)
  • “SNL Presents: Stories from the Show” (S1) (NBC)

Which were some of your favorite wins at the 2021 Producers Guild Awards?

Written by
Karen Peterson is the Awards Editor for We Live Entertainment. She previously worked as the Assistant Editor at Awards Circuit, now owned by Variety. Her work can also be found at Citizen Dame and at the Watch and Talk podcast. Her non-awards season hobbies include Angels baseball, taking pictures of other peoples' pets, and tweeting about The Bachelor franchise.

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