Gary Susman
January 24, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

With its victory at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday, Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator now flies into Tuesday’s Academy Award nominations as the leading candidate for a Best Picture Oscar. The trade association of film and TV producers gave the Howard Hughes biopic its Golden Laurel award for the best film of 2004, over fellow PGA nominees Million Dollar Baby, Sideways, Finding Neverland, and The Incredibles. Besides adding momentum to the film, which also won the Golden Globe for Best Drama last week, the Guild’s seal of approval is traditionally a strong predictor of Oscar success. In the 15-year history of the Golden Laurels, they’ve missed the Best Picture Oscar winner just three times, and they always get at least three of the five Oscar nominees right. (This year, Million Dollar Baby and Sideways seem like the other two certain Oscar nominees.)

The PGA also recognized the year’s best TV work at its ceremony Saturday at Hollywood’s Culver Studios. Most of those prizes went to HBO, which won best drama series (ITALIC {The Sopranos}]), best comedy series (Curb Your Enthusiasm), and best TV movie or miniseries (Angels in America). Best variety show went to Ellen DeGeneres’ syndicated talk show, and best reality show was CBS’ The Amazing Race.

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