By Mary Milliken
LOS ANGELES, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Hollywood producers nominated slavery drama "12 Years a Slave," 1970s con-men caper "American Hustle" and space thriller "Gravity" along with seven other films on Thursday for the top Producers Guild Award, a key indicator of sentiment in the race for the best picture Oscar.
The other films nominated for outstanding producer in a motion picture were Woody Allen's tragic comedy "Blue Jasmine," Somali pirate thriller "Captain Phillips," AIDS activist drama "Dallas Buyers Club," quirky computer-age romance "Her," heartland comedy "Nebraska," Disney's making of "Mary Poppins" in "Saving Mr Banks," and Martin Scorsese's tale of American greed "Wolf of Wall Street."
Notable snubs included the Coen brothers' portrayal of the 1960s folk scene "Inside Llewyn Davis" and two films from awards season power player The Weinstein Co. - family dysfunction drama "August: Osage County" and civil rights saga "Lee Daniels' The Butler."
The Producers Guild Awards will be handed out in a ceremony in Beverly Hills on Jan. 19, six weeks before the March 2 Academy Awards. Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 16.
The top PGA award can give crucial momentum to a frontrunner. In the last six years, the PGA winner has gone on to win best picture at the Oscars, including last year's Iran hostage drama "Argo" from director, producer and actor Ben Affleck.
In a highly competitive year for film, "American Hustle," "Gravity" and "Her" have garnered top critics groups awards. But the unflinching portrayal of pre-Civil War slavery from British director and producer Steve McQueen in "12 Years a Slave" is also considered a best picture frontrunner and leads nominations for the Jan. 12 Golden Globe awards alongside "American Hustle" with seven nods a piece.
Megan Ellison, the daughter of Silicon Valley billionaire and Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, is a double nominee this year for "American Hustle" from Columbia Pictures and "Her" from Warner Bros Pictures.
The 27-year-old Ellison, through her production company Annapurna Pictures, has emerged as a notable force in Hollywood by backing recent successes like "Zero Dark Thirty" and Western remake "True Grit."
Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros., Sony Corp's Columbia and Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures each had two nominees in the list of 10 motion pictures.
In the animation category, the Producers Guild nominated five films for outstanding producer - "The Croods," "Despicable Me 2," "Epic," "Frozen" and "Monsters University."