LOS ANGELES - Ben Affleck's Iran hostage crisis drama "Argo" won the top prize at the Producers Guild of America (PGA) awards Saturday, in a new boost to its Oscars prospects.
The 5,400-member PGA gave its Darryl F. Zanuck award jointly to Affleck, who also directed and stars in the movie, with his co-producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov.
The PGA award is seen as a key indicator of Oscars success: nine out of the last 12 winners have gone on to take the coveted best picture prize at the Academy Awards, including in every year since 2008.
"Argo" caused a surprise by winning best picture and best director for Affleck at this month's Golden Globes, and is nominated in seven categories for the all-important Oscars, to be held on February 24.
It tells the story of a daring CIA mission to rescue six US diplomats who took refuge in the Canadian embassy in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis, bringing them out disguised as crew members for a Hollywood sci-fi film.
The movie's rival nominees for the top PGA award included all of the main movies jostling for glory as Hollywood's annual awards season moves towards its climax.
Steven Spielberg's political drama "Lincoln" leads the Oscar nominations with 12 nods, followed by Ang Lee's 3D adventure "Life of Pi" with 11, and musical "Les Miserables" and romcom "Silver Linings Playbook" both with eight.