Producers Guild Names 'The Aviator' Best Film
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Producers Guild of America, often an important barometer of Oscar sentiment, on Saturday night named "The Aviator," director Martin Scorsese's film biography of billionaire Howard Hughes, best film of 2004.
In 11 of the past 15 years, the Producers Guild has honored films that went on to win the best picture Oscar -- including "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" last year.
The producers are the first of three craft guilds to name their best picture for the year prior to the Oscars on Feb. 27. Next Saturday night, the Directors' Guild will select its best film and then on Feb. 5, the Screen Actors Guild will do the same.
"The Aviator," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has strong competition as Oscar season enters its final weeks. Critics have hailed comedy "Sideways" and Clint Eastwood's tragic boxing drama "Million Dollar Baby" and many Oscar experts say there will be a tight race between the three films.
"The Aviator" was named best dramatic picture at last week's Golden Globe Awards, but Clint Eastwood was named best director for "Million Dollar Baby."
In other awards, the Producers Guild named HBO's "Angels in America" as the year's best TV movie or miniseries. It also gave two other HBO shows awards: "The Sopranos" was named best drama series and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" best comedy series.
NBC's "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" was named best TV variety program and "The Amazing Race" on CBS was named best reality series.