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Every major awards group that reveals its nominations prior to the Oscars on Thursday, January 15, are another tea leaf waiting to be read and analyzed. Was your movie included? Great! Was it left out? You might be in trouble.

The Producers Guild Association is the latest group to drop its selection for the best of 2014, and those of us tracking each step of the Oscar marathon found more than enough interesting elements to single out. Some films bolstered their already strong showings as they wait for the main Oscar noms to be revealed next week. Other films that thought they had a clear path to the Academy Awards just hit an obstacle. And several films that were sitting "on the bubble" just got a nice boost.

The nominees for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures are as follows:

American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

The PGA noms have been a reliable indicator of the direction in which the Oscar breeze is blowing. (Click here for the complete list of this year’s nominees.) What, then, did we learn about the Oscar race today?

Unbroken Is In Serious Danger Of Missing The Best Picture Category
We don’t yet know how many films will be nominated for Best Picture next week. The Academy changed its rules so that the night’s biggest category can have as few as five nominees, and as many as 10. It’s an intriguing way to freshen up what had become a stale race – and to let films that wouldn’t normally get in find a foothold in the competition. But so far, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken has been well-received by audiences yet overlooked by professional groups. SAG bypassed it. The Golden Globes – which typically adore Angie – bypassed it. And now the PGA bypassed it. Will the Academy follow suit?
Selma Isn’t The Frontrunner
Because a true frontrunner takes virtually every prize leading up to the Oscars, and the PGA just handed Selma its walking papers. This counts – for me – as the biggest surprise of the PGA results. When SAG overlooked Ava DuVernay’s blistering and fantastic Civil Rights drama, we argued that it was because members of the Screen Actors Guild hadn’t received screener DVDs. Since then, Selma has been picking up steam… but a PGA omission is a snub, and one that can’t be taken lightly.
Whiplash Has A Real Shot At A Best Picture Nod
Which couldn’t make me happier. Damien Chazelle’s taut, terrifying drama was my choice for No. 1 movie of the year, and the Sundance hit has been collecting accolades since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival almost one year ago to this day. But for the most part, it has been JK Simmons collecting most of the attention for his searing portrayal of Fletcher, a dominant music instructor. Lately, however, those of us who adore Whiplash have seen its scope expand, and inclusion in the PGA equivalent of Best Picture have us believing that a shot at Oscar glory is possible.
The Imitation Game
There Are Five Best Picture Locks
Because they have earned recognition from each important pre-Oscar bellwether, from the SAGs to the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. They are: Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; and The Theory of Everything. If there are a bare minimum of five films selected for Best Picture, it will be these five. We’re just waiting to see how many more films will join them in the category.
Foxcatcher Might Outlast Its Latest Controversies
No film on the Oscar campaign trail wants to generate negative publicity. Selma recently was questioned for its historical accuracy, and Foxcatcher took a surprise beating when its chief subject, Mark Schultz, started slinging mud at director Bennett Miller. These public displays of aggression can damage a film’s Oscar chances… but it’s possible that the controversy occurred too late in the game to stop Foxcatcher. The movie has Oscar momentum, and likely will keep it heading into next week. The PGA nom was a big boost for a movie that had a rough couple of days, but seems to have found smoother sailing in 2015.