Birdman and Boyhood, two of the front-runners for Hollywood's film honours this year, were nominated along with a slew of small movies on Monday for the top Producers Guild Award, a reliable predictor of the best picture Oscar.
Among the 10 films nominated for outstanding producer in the a motion picture were noir LA drama Nightcrawler and the tale of a drummer's obsession in Whiplash, both small independent films with Oscar chances.
The notable exclusions were two films that opened Dec 25, Angelina Jolie's second film as director, the World War Two survival story Unbroken, and the civil rights drama Selma.
Clint Eastwood's portrayal of an Iraq war hero in American Sniper made the list, as did two British biopics, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything.
Rounding out the nominations were the film adaptation of the best-selling novel Gone Girl, the American wrestling tragedy Foxcatcher and the offbeat period comedy, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Birdman, a satire of show business, and Boyhood, a coming-of-age drama filmed over 12 years with the same actors, are the favourites going into the awards season that kicks off next Sunday with the Golden Globe Awards.
The Producers Guild of America has 6,700 members, and in its 25 years handing out its top award has managed to choose the eventual winner of the Academy Award for best picture for the last seven years.
The PGA hands out its awards on Jan 24, while the Oscars are held on Feb 22.
In the animated motion picture category, the PGA nominated blockbusters Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The LEGO Movie, and smaller films The Book of Life and The Boxtrolls.