Why do only half of SAG’s Best Ensemble champs go on to win Best Picture Oscar?

The SAG Awards, decided by the industry actors who make up the recently merged SAG-AFTRA union, have been a reliable predictor of Oscar’s acting races since they were created two decades ago, but they’re not as accurate when it comes to forecasting the Best Picture Oscar. Fewer than half of SAG’s winners for Best Ensemble (nine out of 19) have taken the academy’s top honor.

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That’s because SAG’s Ensemble award truly emphasizes ensemble acting and isn’t a de facto Best Picture prize, so it doesn’t indicate which way the academy is leaning in that race as well as the Directors Guild or Producers Guild do.

The category tends to honor character-driven films with large casts, including “Shakespeare in Love,” “Traffic,” “Gosford Park,” “Crash,” “The Help,” and last year’s victor “American Hustle.”

Only rarely do films with small casts prevail: “Sideways” won with only four main cast members, and “Little Miss Sunshine” won with six, though both films were road movies featuring a number of group scenes, highlighting the chemistry among their stars.

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“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” won despite SAG’s usual bias against sci-fi and fantasy films, but that was an anomaly: capping one of the most successful franchises in recent film history, “Return of the King” was virtually unbeatable throughout 2003’s awards season.

Among this year’s top contenders, “Birdman” has one of the most star-studded casts, including Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, and Zach Galifianakis.

So does “Into the Woods,” a musical featuring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, and James Corden. The last musical to win was “Chicago” (2002), which went on to claim the Best Picture Oscar.

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Wes Anderson‘s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” boasts Ralph Fiennes and newcomer Tony Revolori in addition to supporting players Adrien Brody, F. Murray Abraham, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, and Saoirse Ronan.

Foxcatcher” and “Boyhood” are each focused on only a few main actors, but both films are heavily character-driven and could carry a lot of support from the industry’s actors.

Other films that could be in the running include “Unbroken,” “Selma,” “Mr. Turner,” and “Gone Girl.” “Interstellar” will have to contend with SAG’s bias against sci-fi and fantasy.

Which cast do you think will win the SAG Award for Best Film Ensemble? Make your predictions below.

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