The Producers Guild of America will give out awards tonight, with the teams behind A Beautiful Mind, Moulin Rouge and Shrek among those in contention for its top honor. The producers of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring are also in the running for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award.
The honor is similar to the motion picture academy's best picture prize, and the winner is considered a near shoo-in for Oscar gold. The 1,500-member Producers Guild has correctly predicted the best picture Oscar winner 10 out
of the last 13 years.
A Beautiful Mind, Lord of the Rings and Moulin Rouge are
nominated for both the PGA award and best picture Oscar. But the guild opted for box office hits Shrek and Harry Potter for its other two slots,
while the Academy chose the indie critic faves In the Bedroom and Gosford Park.
The Producers Guild will also hand out awards in three television categories, with such shows as The West Wing and The Sopranos among those in the running.
The teams behind CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Law & Order, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos and The West Wing are nominated for the Norman Felton Producer of the Year Award in episodic television-drama.
Contenders for the Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award in episodic television-comedy are Frasier, Friends, Malcolm in the Middle, Sex and the City and Will & Grace.
The nominated producers of Frasier include the late David Angell, who was aboard one of the hijacked planes that crashed on Sept. 11.
Among the David L. Wolper Producer of the Year Award in longform television nominees are some well-known names--Billy Crystal for HBO's 61*, and Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for HBO's Band of Brothers.
Husband-and-wife actors Bradley Whitford of The West Wing and Jane Kaczmarek of Malcolm in the Middle will host the guild's 13th annual ceremony at the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa.
Formed in 1950, the Producers Guild has about 500 active members and 1,000 affiliated members.
Here is the full list of nominees:
Darryl F. Zanuck Theatrical Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award in Motion Pictures
A Beautiful Mind, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, David Heyman
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh
Moulin Rouge, Martin Brown, Baz Luhrmann and Fred Baron
Shrek, Aron Warner, John H. William and Jeffrey Katzenberg
Norman Felton Producer of the Year in Episodic Television-Drama
CSI Crime Scene Investigation, Jerry Bruckheimer, Ann M. Donahue, Carol Mendelsohn, Anthony Zuiker, Jonathan Littman, Sam Strangis, Danny
Cannon, Cynthia Chvatal and William Petersen
Law & Order, Dick Wolf, Barry Schindel, Jeffrey L. Hayes, Lewis H. Gould and Kati Johnston
Six Feet Under, Alan Ball, Robert Greenblatt, David Janollari and Alan Poul
The Sopranos, David Chase, Brad Grey, Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green, Ilene S. Landress and Terence Winter
The West Wing, John Wells, Aaron Sorkin, Thomas Schlamme, Llewellyn Wells, Christopher Misiano, Alex Graves and Michael Hissrich
Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Television-Comedy
Frasier, David Angell, Peter Casey, Kelsey Grammer, David Lee, Dan O'Shannon, Mark Reisman and Maggie Blanc
Friends, Kevin S Bright, Marta Kauffman, David Crane, Shana Goldberg-Meehan, Scott Silveri, Andrew Reich, Ted Cohen and Todd Stevens
Malcolm in the Middle, Linwood Boomer and James S. Simons
Sex and the City, Michael Patrick King, Cindy Chupack, John P. Melfi and Sarah Jessica Parker
Will & Grace, James Burrows, Jeff Greenstein, Max Mutchnick, David Kohan and Tim Kaiser
David L. Wolper Producer of the Year Award in Longform Television
61*, Billy Crystal and Ross Greenburg
Anne Frank, Hans Proppe and David R. Kappes
Band of Brothers, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Tony To
Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Robert Allan Ackerman and Lorna Luft
Wit, Cary Brokaw
Two decades ago Burt Reynolds made a mark with The Longest Yard a not great but entertaining football movie that melded comedy with violence. Mean Machine attempts to do the same but with far less success. "Mean Machine" is the nickname of Danny Meehan (Vinnie Jones from Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) a onetime soccer star turned reprobate drunk who fell from grace when he intentionally threw a major international match. After he beats up a couple of cops in a drunken rage Danny's given a three-year sentence in one of England's toughest prisons. There he meets your standard garden-variety group of inmates: the big-time crook who runs the place the wise old lifer the jolly bumbler the wily con the grouchy black inmate whose respect must be earned a sadistic and dishonest lot of jailers--the list goes on. The corrupt prison head (David Hemmings) wants Danny to take charge of the guards' soccer team and get them ready for the upcoming season; knowing that's the wrong side to be on in this lockup Danny suggests he organize the inmates for a match against the guards. (A footnote: Can ya guess what they dub their team? Yep Mean Machine). What follows is an all-too-predictable tale in which Danny must win over the prisoners to create a united team the Mean Machine must succeed by a hair in the Big Match and Danny must travel the road to moral self-improvement.
However much Vinnie Jones is liked for his roles in various Guy Ritchie films he ought to think about what he can do to break out of the grim tough-limey bit especially when he's required to do a little real acting. His Danny is supposed to be something of a thinker with more going on behind his dour demeanor. Featuring pretty much two expressions throughout the movie dour and dourer there's not much to Vinnie's performance. (At least Burt Reynolds had some charisma.) If it feels like we've seen all these guys playing the same characters in other recent movies it's because we have. Since the idea of doing this remake came from Matthew Vaughn producer of numerous Ritchie movies the usual Brit suspects reappear along with Jones: Snatch's Jason Statham as a wild and crazy prisoner-turned-goalie Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' Jason Flemyng as the inmate who provides most of the movie's laughs and Lock's Vas Blackwood as Danny's right-hand man. Nobody stands out nobody steals the show--unless it's Hemmings' silver handlebar-lookin' eyebrows that are so long they seem to reach for the sky in every scene. (Ralph Brown though is quite effective as the underhanded head warden.)
The problem with this movie in addition to the clichéd characters rote story and mediocre performances is that soccer inherently isn't as violent and interesting to American audiences as our much more familiar sport of football. There's just something about a bunch of massive glowering linebackers brutally crunching helmets during a scrimmage or taking down a running back in a punishing tackle that you just don't get out of a soccer movie no matter how aggressive and dramatic you try to make it. Director Barry Skolnick throws in a couple of overly violent moments during the movie to make up for this but relies on a lot of slo-mo as the players dribble down the field and go for goals during the big showdown between the inmates and the guards. Yawn. Skolnick tried to capture the essence of a Guy Ritchie movie--herky-jerky camerawork edgy stylistics--but somehow it still feels rote and uninspired. However the film does give you a terrific sense of the isolation and dank dreariness of prison life (Machine was filmed in one of England's oldest prisons).