American Hustle appears to have emerged as the favorite to claim the Producers Guild of America Best Picture award when it’s handed out on January 19th. The darkly comic crime drama sees Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale play 1970s con artists.

American HustleAre these two plotting an Oscars raid?

The 'outstanding producer of theatrical motion pictures' award certainly acts as a bellwether for the Oscars, which will be taking place shortly after the Producer’s Guild awards.

Argo, which took the main prize at last year's ceremony, was also the victor at the 2012 Oscars, while the previous 5 winners have followed suit. Eight of the 10 films nominated by the Producers Guild last year went on to be nominated in the Academy Awards' best picture category.

Elsewhere, 12 Years a Slave and Nebraska were both nominated, while Alfonso Cuaron’s highly rated space thriller, Gravity also received a nod. Notable omissions include The Butler and Coen Brothers movie Inside Llewyn Davis; the latter being more of a surprise than the former.

12 Years a SlaveChiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave

Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street and Tom Hanks thriller Captain Phillips were also nominated, with Dallas Buyers Club, Spike Jonze's romance Her and Saving Mr Banks round off the top ten, making it one of the strongest categories in memory.

With American Hustle, Gravity and Her all receiving various critic’s awards so far this season, it will be interesting to see who can make a late surge for Academy favour early this year.

12 Years a Slave, having collecting seven nominations for this year's Golden Globe awards, remains a strong frontrunner.

The Golden Globes will be held on January 12, with the PGAs a week later on the 19th. The Oscars will be handed out on March 2.