Busy weekend for Hollywood industry awards

Screen shot from Argo

Screen shot from Ben Affleck’s Argo

Over this past weekend, two of Hollywood’s labor organizations — the Producers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild — named their picks for 2012′s best in Film and Television. “Argo” won big: Both the PGA and the SAG awards named “Argo” the Best produced and the Best Cast in a feature, respectively.

These precursor awards (along with the upcoming Directors Guild and Writers Guild Awards) are often seen by Hollywood pundits as the best predictors for Oscar night, since members of the Academy are most likely all members of a Guild. The reverse isn’t true, however. Not every guild member is also a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. So to that end, these predictors aren’t 100 percent accurate.

That doesn’t stop Hollywood watchers from reading tea leaves. Indiewire breaks it down this way: “The PGA are 7/10 in matching Best Picture in the last decade, and 5/5 in the last few years (the SAG are 6/10, but only 3/5 in the last five), as impressive a record for a precursor award as any.”

But Affleck wasn’t nominated in the Best Director category for an Oscar. And not since “Driving Miss Daisy” won in 1989, has a Best Picture Oscar been given to a film when the Director wasn’t also nominated.

Also worth noting is that The PGA named Malik Bendjelloul, the filmmaker behind “Searching for Sugar Man,” along with Producer Simon Chinn as documentary producers of the year. You can hear about how Bendjelloul employed innovation and persistence in the pursuit of making Sugar Man, his first feature, on a recent episode of The Business. The PGA named Wreck-It Ralph best the best produced animated film. The International Animated Film Society holds their annual awards, the Annies, later this week.

Both the PGA and SAG also recognized work in Television. The PGA gave honors to the producers of HBO’s Game of Thrones and Game Change among others. SAG Television winners included: the cast of “Downton Abbey” and “Modern Family,” Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Claire Danes (“Homeland”) plus Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey (30 Rock). For the full list of winners go You can find the PGA and SAG winners here and here.

An abundance of sales at Sundance 

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival has wrapped and lots of film distributors were in buying mode, indicating that the indie film industry has some life to it. According to L.A. Times film writer and KCRW contributor John Horn, Fox Searchlight who last year picked up “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “The Sessions” at Sundance, paid the most for an acquisition– nearly $10 million for “The Way Way Back,” a coming of age comedy by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (co-writers of “The Descendants”).The movie stars Sam Rockwell along with Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Liam James as the young teen at the center.

The Weinstein Company bought a number of films, including Festival Grand Jury Prize winner “Fruitvale,”  a narrative film based on the tragic true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African American man who was shot by police while handcuffed on a BART platform outside Oakland. And together with Radius, The Weinstein company also snatched up the crowd-pleasing documentary about back-up singers, “Twenty Feet from Stardom.” KCRW interviewed the filmmakers behind that music doc.

Another film to spark an early sale was “Austenland,” which was produced by Twilight author, Stephenie Meyer and stars Keri Russell and “Flight of the Concord’s”  Bret McKenzie. Sony Pictures bought the film. You can see clips here.

Other documentaries coming to a small screen near you include: Blackfish about the life of Orca whales in the Florida Sea World (CNN bought the film), Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer  (bought by HBO Films); and the crowd-created doc, “The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film 99%” was picked up by Participant  for theatrical release. It will then have a second life on that company’s new cable network which launches in August.

The New York Times has a rundown of other Sundance films that got picked up.

Have you filled out your Oscar ballot yet?

What movie do you think should win the Best picture Oscar? Tell us on Facebook or comment below.

ARGO
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
LIFE OF PI
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
DJANGO UNCHAINED
LINCOLN
ZERO DARK THIRTY
AMOUR
LES MISERABLES

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