LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The low-budget Iraq War drama “The Hurt Locker” was named best picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards on Sunday, a key boost to the underdog movie’s Oscar campaign.
The winner of the trade group’s top award has gone on to take the best picture Oscar in 13 of the past 20 years, including the two most recent events. On the other hand, the 4,200-member group suffered a three-year dry spell immediately before its most recent winning streak.
The award went to producers Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed the picture, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro.
“This is absolutely incredible,” said Bigelow, who described the movie as “a tough little war film that was shot in the summer in the Middle East.”
The picture, already out on DVD after a low-key run in theaters, revolves around a squad of American bomb-disposal experts serving in the Iraq War.
“The Hurt Locker” has already won the best picture prize at the Critics Choice Awards, which has had an 80 percent success rate at the Oscars in the last 10 years.
Its biggest competition during awards season appears to be box-office behemoth and recent Golden Globe winner “Avatar,” which was coincidentally produced and directed by Bigelow’s ex-husband James Cameron.
After Oscar organizers decided late last year to double the field of best picture nominees to 10, the Producers Guild followed suit. Its other nominees were “District 9,” “Star Trek,” “Up,” “Up in the Air,” “Invictus,” “An Education,” “Precious,” and “Inglourious Basterds.”
Other feature winners included “The Cove” for best documentary and “Up” for animated picture. Both films have also figured prominently during awards season.
The Oscar nominations will be announced on February 2 and the awards handed out on March 7.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Eric Walsh