The Producers Guild of America has officially existed since 1962, when separate groups for TV and film merged, but the PGA didn't start giving out awards until 1990. Since then, the PGA best picture winner has matched the Oscar winner 12 out of 19 times. They lined up last year (No Country for Old Men), but conflicted for three years in a row before that. So whichever film wins the PGA award on Jan. 24 has a reasonably good chance -- but by no means a slam-dunk -- of winning the Oscar, too.
But the more immediate question is whether The Dark Knight will even be nominated for the Oscar. The other four PGA nominees are likely Oscar candidates; it's The Dark Knight that's had the big ol' question mark next to it in people's guesses and predictions. A comprehensive list of past PGA nominees is hard to come by, even at the guild's own website, but Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil has done some number-crunching. He reports that of the 95 Best Picture Oscar nominees between 1990 and 2008, 72 were also PGA nominees. Statistically speaking, that means The Dark Knight now has about a 75% chance of getting an Oscar nomination.
I urge cautious optimism, however! The trend the last few years has been for the PGA and Oscar nominations to be exactly the same except for one difference. Last year the Oscars nominated Atonement in the slot where the PGA had The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; before that it was Letters from Iwo Jima to the PGA's Dreamgirls; before that it was Munich instead of Walk the Line. Maybe the Oscars will match four of the PGA's nominees this year, too, and give that fifth slot not to The Dark Knight but ... WALL-E? Revolutionary Road? Beverly Hills Chihuahua?
In the PGA's documentary category, the nominees are Man on Wire, Standard Operating Procedure, and Trouble the Water. No one will be surprised if all three are Oscar nominees, too. This is only the second year the PGA has given a documentary award, and last year, only one of its nominees went on to be Oscar-nominated. (It was Sicko, which eventually won the PGA award but lost the Oscar.)
This is the fourth year that the PGA has had a category for animated films, and the nominees are WALL-E, Bolt, and Kung Fu Panda. If WALL-E doesn't win the Oscar for this category, too, I'll eat a 700-year-old Twinkie. The PGA winner has matched the Oscar two out of three times, varying only when the PGA award went to Cars instead of Happy Feet.