The Last Samurai's still got game.
The Tom Cruise epic, to date enjoying something less than an epic award-show season, reasserted itself in the Oscar race Monday, nabbing a key nomination from the Producers Guild of America.
Cruise and the Samurai team, including director/writer Edward Zwick, are up for the guild's movie Producer of the Year honor.
Producing teams for Cold Mountain, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River and Seabiscuit are the other nominees.
With the exception of Last Samurai, each film in that group is also up for the Golden Globe for Best Drama.
The PGA Awards, handed out annually since 1990, are among the best predictors of Oscar success. Since Driving Miss Daisy was honored at the guild's first ceremony, winners of Film Producer of the Year have gone on to capture the Best Picture Academy Award 10 out of 14 times.
Last year was no exception: Chicago's Marty Richards picked up the PGA in early March and the Oscar a couple of weeks later.
PGA nominations for Cold Mountain, Master and Commander, Return of the King and Mystic River are the latest award-show plaudits for the much-honored quartet. Seabiscuit's builds on the horse-racing movie's lone, but key, Golden Globe nomination.
Up until the PGAs, The Last Samurai had been all but ignored by the season's powerbrokers, save for the American Film Institute, which named the period film to its year-end 10-best list.
The PGAs' seemingly uncanny ability to forecast Oscar's Best Picture winner, if not its nominees, leaves Lost in Translation, for once, at a loss.
Sofia Coppola's gentle jet-lagged comedy, up for five Globes, including Best Comedy/Musical, is arguably 2003's most-honored movie along with Mystic River. But it didn't make the cut with PGA voters.
Neither did In America. Jim Sheridan's heartbreaking, heartwarming tale of Irish immigrants in New York City, clinging to two Globe nominations, seemingly needs more momentum going into Oscar voting.
The 15th Annual PGA Awards, also honoring TV, are scheduled to be presented January 17 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
Here's a complete rundown at the nominations:
Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award (film): Cold Mountain
The Last Samurai
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
David L. Wolper Producer of the Year Award (TV movie): And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (HBO)
Hitler: The Rise of Evil (CBS)
My House in Umbria (HBO)
The Pentagon Papers (FX)
Norman Felton Producer of the Year Award (TV drama series): Alias (ABC)
C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS)
Six Feet Under (HBO)
The West Wing (NBC)
Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award (TV comedy series): Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS)
Malcolm in the Middle (Fox)
Sex and the City (HBO)
Will & Grace (NBC)
Reality/Game/Informational Series Producer of the Year: The Amazing Race 4 (CBS)
American Idol (Fox)
Project Greenlight (HBO)
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (Bravo)
Survivor: Pearl Islands (CBS)