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Hostage film "Argo" wins producers award as Oscars loom

Actor, director and producer of "Argo" Ben Affleck arrives at the Producers Guild of America Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 26,
Actor, director and producer of "Argo" Ben Affleck arrives at the Producers Guild of America Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 26,

By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Iran hostage drama "Argo" continued its trophy-winning streak on Saturday, taking the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards in the latest boost to its chances at the Oscars.

Guild picks regularly go on to win at the film industry's most prestigious event - for the last five years, the producers' choice of best-produced film has taken the best picture Oscar.

"I'm really surprised. I'm not even in the PGA (Producers Guild of America)," Argo director, producer and star actor Ben Affleck said as he collected the award for the film that tells the true story of the rescue of U.S. diplomats from Tehran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

"I am still acting and available," added a smiling Affleck, joined on stage by co-producer Grant Heslov. George Clooney, also a producer, did not attend the event in Beverly Hills.

The PGA prize is seen as a particularly good indicator of future success as many of the Guild's 5,000 plus members are also members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who vote for the Oscars.

Argo was nominated earlier this month for a best film Oscar, but Affleck was snubbed in the director's category. Nevertheless, he won a Golden Globe for his direction this month and Argo also won best movie drama at the Golden Globes.

Argo won the PGA prize against nine other films on Saturday, including Steven Spielberg's presidential drama "Lincoln", musical "Les Miserables" and Kathyrn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden thriller "Zero Dark Thirty".

Also contending were Quentin Tarantino's darkly humorous slavery Western "Django Unchained", the James Bond blockbuster "Skyfall", Ang Lee's shipwreck tale "Life of Pi" and the comedy "Silver Linings Playbook".

Many of the PGA-nominated movies are also in the running for the best picture Oscar on February 24.

The PGA handed "Wreck-It Ralph," its honor for best animated movie.

Unlike the Academy Awards, both the Producers Guild Awards and the Golden Globes also give prizes to television dramas and comedies.

The HBO film "Game Change" about Sarah Palin's 2008 vice presidential bid won the outstanding longform TV prize and ABC's "Modern Family" was named best-produced television comedy. "Homeland" was named the best-produced TV drama.

"Searching for Sugar Man," a film about an obscure singer named Rodriguez who is a hit in South Africa, won the prize for best documentary.

J.J. Abrams, who grabbed headlines this week for being named director for the "Star Wars" film received an achievement award for his television work while producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein received a milestone award.

(Reporting By Susan Zeidler; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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