Does SAG Award for Best Ensemble preview Best Picture at Oscars?

There is good news for “Boyhood” even though it lags far behind Oscars rival “Birdman” for the SAG Ensemble award. Only nine of the 19 films that have taken this top prize have gone on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. 

That success rate of just 47% stands in stark contrast to just how well the guild has done at forecasting the eventual Oscar champs for acting. In its first two decades, the SAG Awards bestowed 80 trophies to individual performers (it didn’t give out an Ensemble prize in its first year). Those choices have previewed the Academy Awards winners 55 times — 57 if you count Benicio del Toro, who won in lead at SAG in 2000 for “Traffic” and supporting at the Oscars and Kate Winslet who did the reverse, winning supporting at SAG in 2008 for “The Reader” and lead at the Oscars.

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 22 categories

Why the disconnect between then between the SAG Ensemble Award and the Best Picture Oscar? The guild tends to embrace character-driven films with large casts such as “Apollo 13,” “Traffic,” “Gosford Park,” “The Help,” and last year’s winner “American Hustle.” That some of these, such as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Crash,” also win over the academy in upsets may be reflective of the sizeable bloc of votes to be found there in the actors branch.  

When films with only a few in the cast — such as “Sideways” with four actors and “Little Miss Sunshine” with six — prevail at SAG, they feature plenty of scenes with the whole ensemble together, showcasing the chemistry between them.

As such, with “Boyhood” only featuring four credited actors — Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke and Lorelai Linklater — it is not a surprise that it has the backing of just one of our ten Experts, four of our Top 24 Users and 20% of All Users to claim the Ensemble award. That tepid support gives it odds of just 15 to 2. 

Contrast that to “Birdman,” which reaped three individual SAG bids — for lead Michael Keaton and featured players Edward Norton and Emma Stone — and boasts a cast that also includes Zach Galifianakis, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan and  Naomi Watts. It leads all contenders with eight of our 10 Experts, all seven Editors, 19 of our Top 24 Users and  70% of All Users predicting it to prevail. All of this combines to give it leading odds of 12 to 5.

The super-sized cast of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” led by Ralph Fiennes and newcomer Tony Revolori in addition to supporting players Adrien BrodyF. Murray AbrahamWillem DafoeJeff GoldblumEdward Norton and Saoirse Ronan gets the votes of one Expert, one of the Top 24 Users and 10% of All Users. That is good enough for odds of 12 to 1.  

The two British films in contention lag far behind with “The Imitation Game” at 50 to 1 and “The Theory of Everything” at 100 to 1.   

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Below, a list of all the winners of the SAG Ensemble award with those that also won Best Picture at the Oscars noted in gold

2013 – “American Hustle” 
2012 – “Argo
2011 – “The Help
2010 – “The King’s Speech
2009 – “Inglorious Basterds”
2008 – “Slumdog Millionaire
2007 – “No Country for Old Men
2006 – “Little Miss Sunshine”
2005 – “Crash
2004 – “Sideways”
2003 – “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
2002 – “Chicago
2001 – “Gosford Park”
2000 – “Traffic”
1999 – “American Beauty
1998 – “Shakespeare in Love
1997 – “The Full Monty”
1996 – “The Birdcage”
1995 – “Apollo 13”

What cast do you think is going to win Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards this year? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. 

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