In a barometer of Oscar sentiment, the Leonardo DiCaprio movie takes the top prize

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 24, 2005 08:00 AM

Howard Hughes would find it very hard being a recluse these days.

On Saturday, director Martin Scorsese’s epic film bio of the eccentric industrialist, The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was named best picture by the Producers Guild of America – an important portent of how it will fare at the Oscars on Feb. 27.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce its nominees Tuesday morning.

In 11 of the past 15 years, the choices of the Producers Guild have gone on the take home the Academy’s Best Picture Oscar – including last year’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

As for betting on what will win, leading Irish bookmaker Paddy Power is currently offering even money for The Aviator and Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby as Best Picture, with odds of 6:4. (Power is also wagering 4:1 that Eastwood will mention either President Bush or Michael Moore in an acceptance speech, reports New York’s Daily News.)

In its other awards, the Producers Guild named HBO’s Angels in America the year’s best miniseries; The Sopranos, best drama series; and Curb Your Enthusiasm, best comedy series.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show was best TV variety program and The Amazing Race best reality series, reports Reuters.