'Little Miss Sunshine' was the surprise winner at the PGA Awards.
In an unpredictable turn in the wide-open awards season, the Producers Guild of America has tapped offbeat family comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" as winner of its top feature film award over "Babel," "The Departed," "Dreamgirls" and "The Queen."
The PGA, based on voting by its 3,300 members, gave its Darryl F. Zanuck trophy to "Sunshine" producers Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa in ceremonies Saturday night at the Century Plaza. The award, presented by Tom Cruise, was only the second comedy ever chosen by the PGA, joining "Forrest Gump."
With a $12 million price tag, "Sunshine" was the lowest-cost of the nominees for the PGA award. Fox Searchlight acquired the pic -- starring Alan Arkin, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigail Van Breslin, Steve Carrell and Paul Dano as a dysfunctional family -- at last year's Sundance Film Festival.
In his acceptance speech, Turtletaub singled out Michael Arndt's screenplay and said the key scene in making him decide to back the project came when he read about the grandfather advising his grandson to have sex with a lot of women -- "I mean, like a thousand."
"Thank you Michael," he added. "Without your wonderful screenplay, with equal parts of humor, heart and wisdom, none of us would be here tonight."
The PGA win for "Little Miss Sunshine" -- a surprise success first released during the summer with domestic grosses hitting nearly $60 million -- gives it significant awards season momentum as the PGA winner has matched the Best Picture Oscar winner 11 times in 17 years. However, the orgs differed last year with the PGA choosing "Brokeback Mountain" and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences going with "Crash" and in 2005 with "The Aviator" winning at the PGA and "Million Dollar Baby" winning the Best Picture Oscar.
"Little Miss Sunshine" hadn't been seen as frontrunner recently, thanks to "Babel" and "Dreamgirls” taking the Golden Globes for best drama and best comedy/musical, respectively. "Babel," "Dreamgirls," "The Departed" and "Sunshine" have all been nominated for the DGA award for director, the WGA for script and the SAG award for top ensemble.
If "Sunshine" receives an Oscar nom for Best Picture on Tuesday, the exec committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will then have to eliminate at least two of the five producers from being credited due to the AMPAS requirement limiting the number of producers to three. The PGA, which formally advises AMPAS on producer credits, has no limit on the number of producers that can be credited although it's been attempting to cut down on the proliferation of credits.