January 6, 2009 / 2:23 PM / in 10 years

Hollywood producers unveil best film nominees

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Producers Guild of America on Monday unveiled nominees for their film and television awards with “The Dark Knight” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” among nominees for best-produced movie.

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in “The Dark Knight.” REUTERS/Warner Bros. Pictures/Handout

Those two films were joined by “Frost/Nixon,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Milk” on the PGA’s list of top films as Hollywood counts the days until the February 22 Oscars, the industry’s biggest movie awards.

Producers Guild and other industry honors can provide a lift to theater ticket sales and Oscar chances because many members of the PGA also belong to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose members vote on Oscars.

The PGA also picks favorite documentary films and in that arena, the producers of “Man on Wire,” telling of a man who in 1974 walked a tightrope between the World Trade Center Towers, will compete with director Errol Morris’ look at Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse in “Standard Operating Procedure” and a story of survival after Hurricane Katrina, “Trouble the Water.”

The honor for best-produced animated movie puts “Kung Fu Panda” up against “Bolt” and “Wall-E.”

But the PGA’s top honor is best feature film because of its Oscar implications, and all five of the movies nominated by the PGA have figured prominently in this year’s Oscar race.

Faring well with critics and at box offices have been “Benjamin Button,” starring Brad Pitt and telling of a man who ages backward, and “Slumdog Millionaire,” about a poor Indian man’s attempt to win a TV game show.

“Milk,” which looks at slain gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk, has played well in art houses and earned acclaim for Sean Penn’s performance as Milk, and “Frost/Nixon,” recounting the interviews by British TV host David Frost of disgraced former U.S. President Richard Nixon, also has played strongly in a limited U.S. release.

Batman flick “The Dark Knight” was 2008’s No. 1 box office performer with global ticket sales just under $1 billion and Heath Ledger’s role as villain The Joker thrilled audiences.

Along with its film honors, the PGA also recognizes work for U.S. television programs. In the category for best production of a TV drama, “Boston Legal” and “Lost” will compete with “Mad Men,” “Dexter” and “Damages.”

Nominees for TV comedy went to the producers of “30 Rock,” “The Office,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Entourage” and “Weeds.”

The Producers Guild of America hands out its awards at a gala ceremony in Los Angeles on January 24.

Editing by Vicki Allen

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