*For the first time in its history, the Producers Guild of America gave its top prize to two films during its awards ceremony Sunday night.
“Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” both won the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for outstanding producer of theatrical motion pictures at the show, which took place at the Beverly Hilton.
Producer Brad Pitt and director-producer Steve McQueen accepted “12 Years a Slave’s” award. Pitt talked about the struggle involved in getting a project to the big screen and the rewarding feeling when all of that effort pays off.
“As a producer, I spend years trying to get a script together for a project [I] believe in,” Pitt said. “The concept has to attract money. I try to figure out actors’ schedules. It’s a colossal pain in the ass. But when we do prevail and get a story together, when we get all the elements together and we clear the way for a director to believe in, it is a lovely, lovely feeling, and beyond that, we get to contribute something to the yearly narrative. We contribute something to culture, and that’s f—ing cool.”
Pitt also thanked the cast, the city of New Orleans, Bill Pohlad, New Regency’s Brad Weston and Arnon Milchan, everyone at Fox Searchlight and McQueen, who then took the microphone.
McQueen thanked those who supported their film, noting that there were “a lot of people who turned their backs on us.” And he said that the film’s box office success, despite its brutal scenes, shows the importance of the movie’s story.
“When the film first came out in Telluride and Toronto, some people were saying this was a brutal film, that no one would go and see it,” McQueen explained. “Box office here, in the United States, and the U.K. has proven differently. It just shows you what happens when people come together to make something work, particularly about this story, a story of America. It’s not a black film. It’s not a white film. It’s a story of America. It’s the story of a man called Solomon Northup, who survived the horrors of slavery for 12 years.”
Meanwhile, “Frozen” won in the animated film category. On the TV side, AMC’s “Breaking Bad” won for best episodic drama, while ABC’s “Modern Family” scored the win for best episodic comedy. HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra” won in the longform category.
A bevy of top industry names also took the stage to present and receive the PGA’s annual special honors.
Singer Pharrell Williams presented the Visionary Award to Chris Meledandri of Illumination Entertainment, praising his “singular vision,” first at Twentieth Century Fox as an executive, and then in partnership with Universal Studios, after he formed his own company and produced “Despicable Me.”
Actor Michael B. Jordan presented the Stanley Kramer Award to producers Nina Yang Bongiovi and Forest Whitaker for the movie “Fruitvale Station.” He said the film’s important story was shot in twenty days and twenty nights, “in which nobody slept. It was too expensive to sleep — yeah, independent film.”
“The loss of Oscar Grant was a tragedy,” said Whitaker. “Oscar is a symbol for so many social justices… Our hope was this would create a human experience that would unite us.”