Oscar 2012: Argo Wins Producers Guild Award

“Argo” has advanced its awards momentum, scoring a major victory from the Producers Guild of America.

The guild presented its Darryl F. Zanuck award to Ben Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov in cermonies Saturday at the Beverly Hilton.

Based on voting by the PGA’s 5,400 members, “Argo” topped “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Skyfall” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Affleck gushed that the award was “incredible and exciting” in his short acceptance. He thanked spouse Jennifer Garner, Warner execs Jeff Robinov and Sue Kroll and fellow producers Clooney — who did not attend — and Heslov.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’m still working as an actor,” he added.

Heslov quipped, “The hardest thing about working on this was working with two producers who have been People’s ‘Sexiest Masn Alive.'”

The win for “Argo,” centering on the CIA rescue of Americans trapped in Iran in 1979-80, came two weeks after it won Golden Globes for best dramatic film whlle Affleck picked up a directing trophy.

Affleck wasn’t nominated for a directing Oscar on Jan. 10, two days after scoring a DGA nod.

Since Warner Bros. released “Argo” on Oct. 12, the film has grossed $116 million domestically and another $75 million overseas as the thriller achieved solid mainstream appeal.

The PGA winner has matched the Oscar Best Picture winner in the last five years with “The Artist,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “No Country for Old Men.” The PGA and AMPAS last diverged in 2006 when the Zanuck award went to “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Departed” won the Oscar.

There are 494 producers in the producers branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — about 8 percent of the AMPAS membership

Disney’s “Wreck-it Ralph” won the animated feature award for Clark Spencer.

“Searching for Sugar Man” continued its momentum by taking the documentary trophy.

“Homeland” won the Norman Felton trophy for episodic drama and

“Modern Family” won the Danny Thomas award for episodic comedy for the third year in a row.

Reality mainstay “The Amazing Race” won the competition TV award for second year in a row as did PBS’s “American Masters” in the non-fiction TV category.

“The Colbert Report” took the talk-live entertainment category.

“Game Change’ won the David O. Wolper award for longform TV.

J.J. Abrams, a day after taking on the next “Star Wars,” cracked up the crowd by saying “Typical week” at the start of his acceptance speech for the Norman Lear award for TV.

“Surreal, gratifying and undeserved,” Abrams said of the previously announced award.

Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan were presented with the David O. Selznick achievement award for features. Fellner elicited a major laugh by starting, “It’s at this particular moment that I wish I’d written something down.”

Previously announced awards included the documentary “Bully,” which won the Stanley Kramer award for illuminating social issues.

The PGA Milestone award went to Harvey and Bob Weinstein, presented by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

“The trajectory of my career would not be the same without the Weinstein brothers,” Tarantino said.

The Visionary Award for Work of Uplifting Quality or Vision went to Russell Simmons.