The recently-announced nominations for the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards are key in predicting a certain category of this year’s Oscar race. According to IndieWire, the overlap between films nominated for the PGA’s Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures award and in the SAG Awards’ Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture category often correlate with those that are top contenders for the Oscar’s Best Picture accolade. This year, that list includes Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Minari and One Night in Miami. Keep reading for a look at these four Best Picture contenders, as well as the performances recognized in each.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
The official Netflix synopsis tells us, “Tensions and temperatures rise at a Chicago music studio in 1927 when fiery, fearless blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) joins her band for a recording session.” Ma clashes with her horn player Levee, played by the late Chadwick Boseman, when he wants to change her music. Both Davis and Boseman are nominated in the SAG Awards’ lead actor categories for their performances in the on-screen adaptation of August Wilson’s stage play of the same name. Other cast members nominated in the ensemble category include Jonny Coyne, Colman Domingo, Michael Potts and Glynn Turman.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed the film that centers on the real events following protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The courtroom drama tells the story of the eight activists who stood trial for conspiring to incite a riot outside the convention. The official Amblin synopsis calls it “one of the most bizarre and momentous trials in American history,” and the film’s A-list cast helps bring such an impactful story to the screen. Those recognized as a part of the SAG Awards’ ensemble nomination include Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp and Jeremy Strong. Baron Cohen is also recognized within the supporting actor category for his performance as the counterculture activist Abbie Hoffman.
Lee Isaac Chung wrote and directed the feature that was inspired by his own story. The official A24 synopsis describes how Minari “follows a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream.” It took home Best Picture – Foreign Language at this year’s Golden Globes after a controversial rule kept it shut out from consideration for Best Picture Drama. Steven Yeun was left without a nomination at that awards show but was recognized by the SAG Awards with a nod in the lead actor category for his performance as the father of the film’s central family. Yuh-Jung Youn received a nomination in the supporting female actor category for her portrayal of the grandmother. Other cast members recognized by the SAG Awards in the ensemble category include Noel Kate Cho, Yeri Han, Scott Haze, Alan Kim and Will Patton.
One Night in Miami
Regina King made her feature directorial debut with the on-screen adaptation of Kemp Powers’ stage play of the same name. The film is an imagining of what actually happened on a historic night in 1964 when icons Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke came together in Miami. Leslie Odom Jr. is nominated in the supporting actor category for his performance as Cooke, a role that almost went to someone else according to the film’s casting director. “For One Night in Miami, we ended up having to replace the actors that we originally had for Sam Cooke and Malcolm X,” Kimberly Hardin shared with Casting Networks in a recent interview. “It [recasting the roles] was a last-minute thing and certainly a whole process in itself.” Kingsley Ben-Adir, Beau Bridges, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Michael Imperioli, Joaquina Kalukango, Lance Reddick and Nicolette Robinson are the other actors nominated in the ensemble category.
You’ll have to wait until the Oscar nominations are announced on March 15 to find out if Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Minari and One Night in Miami make it to the final lap of the Best Picture race. Come March 24 when the PGA Awards take place, you can find out who takes home the coveted Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures award. The associated winning film has also often been linked to the winner of the Oscar’s Best Picture accolade, and those interested in doing further research can find a full list of nominees for the PGA Awards here.