“Birdman” leads the SAG Awards nominations with four bids while “Boyhood,” “Birdman,” “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything” each picked up three. All contend for Best Ensemble with “Birdman” up for three individual acting awards and the rest vying for two apiece. The fifth ensemble nominee is “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which was shut out of the individual acting races.
Of these, “The Theory of Everything” did better than our Experts expected by nabbing that Ensemble nod. It bumped “Into the Woods” out and that tuner had to settle for a bid by Supporting Actress Meryl Streep.
All of our Oscar frontrunners are in the running here: “Boyhood” as well as leads Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) and Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) and featured players J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash“) and Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”). Last year, all four Oscar acting champs first prevailed here.
However, these kudos are not as prescient when it comes to Best Picture. Last year, the guild chose the cast of “American Hustle” while the Oscar went to “12 Years a Slave.” Indeed, in the 19-year history of the Best Ensemble award, that winner went on to take Oscar’s top prize only nine times. However, SAG did presage two of Oscar’s biggest upsets: “Shakespeare in Love” over “Saving Private Ryan” in 1998, and “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005.
Among the surprises in this year’s roster: lead acting nominations for Jennifer Aniston (“Cake“) and Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nightcrawler“) and a supporting bid by Naomi Watts for “St. Vincent.” She is also part of the nominated ensemble of “Birdman.”
“Selma” was shut out with David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King, Jr. missing out on an expected Best Actor nomination. Also, MIA were SAG favorite Amy Adams (“Big Eyes“) and second generation star Laura Dern (“Wild“).
However, there is still Oscar hope for many of those snubbed. Historically, the SAG Awards, which began in 1994, offered an uncanny crystal ball to the Oscars. The two kudos usually agreed on 18 to 19 of their 20 acting contenders, but the overlap rate dropped dramatically two years ago after SAG merged with AFTRA. Since then, these precursor prizes have foreseen only 14 of the eventual Oscar nominees in each of the past two years and in 2012 overlooked eventual Oscar champ Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”) entirely.