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“CODA” wins the grand prize at the 2022 Producers Guild Awards

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The uplifting coming-of-age story “CODA” won the top honor from the Producers Guild of America on Saturday night, throwing this year’s Best Picture Oscar race into chaos.

Victory for Sian Heder’s beautiful, often heartbreaking story of a child of deaf adults (the acronym in the title) continues “CODA’s” late-breaking awards season. The Apple TV+ film didn’t appear on many voters’ radars until it won the Screen Actors Guild Ensemble Award three weeks ago.

Now that the Oscar voting is underway and ending Tuesday, there may be no stopping the feel-good “CODA” from winning Best Picture at the 94th Academy Awards next Sunday. (Have your tissues ready.)

The PGA Film Awards have often been a strong harbinger of a Best Picture Oscar win. After both the Academy and PGA expanded their best picture lists and instituted a preferential or ranked voting system to determine the winner, the two groups matched for six straight years. That includes the odd 2014 PGA ceremony that produced a tie between “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity.”

But as the academy expanded its membership in recent years, the groups have diverged as often as was convenient. The Oscars favored “Spotlight” over PGA winner “The Big Short.” The next year, “Moonlight” defeated “La La Land,” the PGA’s pick. A few years ago, Academy voters voted for “Parasite” over the PGA-favored “1917”.

The PGA and the Academy reflected in the other years with “The Shape of Water”, “Green Book” and most recently “Nomadland”.

Before “CODA” won the PGA Awards, it looked like “The Power of the Dog” would take a victory lap at the Oscars. Last weekend, Jane Campion’s western took top honors at the British Academy Film Awards and Campion came out on top at the Directors Guild Awards.

But rival studios have claimed throughout awards season that the ranking system the academy uses to determine best picture – in which voters rank the 10 nominated films in order of preference – would derail The Power of the Dog. The mindset offered by competitors is that Campion’s film is admired more than loved (or even liked). Sure, it would get many #1 votes from some Academy members. But it would also be at the bottom of many voters’ ballots.

In this school of thought, movies that are assumed to be universally liked, like “CODA” (or maybe “Belfast” and “King Richard”) would be favorites because they would top most people’s ballots.

The PGA win for “CODA” confirms the notion that even with 12 leading Oscar nominations, “The Power of the Dog” may be shaky in its bid to win Netflix its first Best Picture award. And “CODA” did an incredible job with just three nominations (it also garnered praise for the adapted screenplay and Troy Kotsur’s supporting actor). In fact, it could win all three of those Oscars.

Among other awards presented at the PGA ceremony: Questlove’s “Summer of Soul,” chronicling the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, won for documentary, a win set to be repeated at the Oscars. Likewise, Oscar favorite “Encanto” won the cartoon award.

On the television side, “Ted Lasso” won for comedy series, while “Succession” won for drama. “Mare of Easttown” won a limited series. (All three programs won series Emmys last year.) “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” another Emmys long-running favorite, won the Live Entertainment, Variety, Sketch, Standup & Talk award. Won RuPaul’s Drag Race for game and competition series. The Beatles: Get Back won for non-fiction television.

The Guild also honored several individuals including Greg Berlanti with the Norman Lear Award; Kathleen Kennedy and George Lucas with the Milestone Award; Rita Moreno with the Stanley Kramer Prize; Mary Parent with the David O. Selznick Award and Issa Rae with the Visionary Award.

Rae gave a moving and funny speech, lamenting that producing doesn’t get any easier even with the five seasons she’s signed on for the acclaimed HBO series Insecure.

“This is the Visionary Award, which means you all see something in me, and it means so much to me, especially now that I just finished producing the first season of my second TV show for HBO Max and I was like, ‘ Damned. I hope after this s— they still see the visionary in me,” she said, referring to the recently renewed Sweet Life: Los Angeles. Rae joked that she would keep a tight grip on the trophy.

Moreno, 90, who took the stage as the last of the honorees, spoke for all who survived the night’s lengthy ceremony.

“I got really tired,” she said after dancing her way to the stage. “My buttocks hurt.”

If that’s too cheeky a way to end the night, let’s add that Moreno has also spoken eloquently about the place of movies in her life.

“I’m not a religious person, but for me film has often been a sacred text that has inspired me to do something [Abraham] Lincoln called ‘the better angels,'” she said.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2022-03-19/producers-guild-america-2022-awards-oscars-coda “CODA” wins the grand prize at the 2022 Producers Guild Awards

Caroline Bleakley

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