Los Angeles: 'The Big Short' has been named the best-produced film of 2015 by the Producers Guild of America, making the financial crisis dramedy the presumptive favourite in a tightly contested race for the Best Picture Oscar.
Since the Academy and the PGA expanded from five to 10 nominees, no film has won the Oscar without first winning the Producers Guild Award.
The Producers Guild counts its final ballots using the preferential system, making it the only major guild to use the same system as the Oscars for its top award.
In recent years, it has been by far the most reliable of the guilds in predicting Oscar success.
Adam McKay's adaptation of Michael Lewis' book about the housing collapse of 2008 now has a surprising upperhand in the battle with 'Spotlight,' 'The Revenant' and 'Mad Max: Fury Road.'
In her acceptance speech, 'The Big Short' producer Dede Gardner said she wanted to deal with 'the elephant in the room,' and addressed the diversity issue by saying, 'We have privilege in our hands as storytellers. We need to tell stories that reflect our world.'
Other films that were up for the PGA's top honour this year included 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Ex Machina,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'The Revenant,' 'Sicario,' 'Spotlight' and 'Straight Outta Compton.'
The award for animated feature went to Pixar's 'Inside Out,' while the documentary honour went to 'Amy.'
In the television categories, 'Transparent' and 'Game of Thrones' won for episodic comedy and drama, respectively, while 'Fargo' was honoured as the year's best long-form TV program.
Other awards went to 'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,' 'The Voice,' 'The Jinx,' 'Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,' 'Sesame Street' and 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.'
The PGA also gave out a number of honorary awards. Fox's Jim Gianopulos received the Milestone Award, 'Harry Potter' producer David Heyman the David O Selznick Achievement Award, Shonda Rhimes the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television, Industrial Light & Magic the Visionary Vanguard Award and 'The Hunting Ground' the Stanley Kramer Award.
The ceremony took place at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, and was hosted by Jane Lynch.