What do Screen Actors Guild Awards mean for Oscars?

Not surprisingly, the Screen Actors Guild Awards is one of the best precursors as to who will win the four acting categories at the Oscars. In their 19-year history, these kudos have previewed 52 of the 76 Oscar winners for acting. Both last year and in 2011, SAG winners went three for four at the Oscars. 

However, the guild is less reliable when predicting Best Picture. In the 18-year history of the Best Ensemble award, that winner went on to take Oscar’s top prize only nine times. However, in good news for “American Hustle,” seven of those were in the last 11 years, including last year’s win by “Argo.”

And, in good news for one of its fiercest Oscar rivals, “12 Years a Slave,”  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. (“Gravity,” the third strong contender for Best Picture at the Oscars, was essentially a one-woman show and, thus, not eligible for this award from SAG.)

Below, an analysis of this year’s SAG winners and nominations, including handicapping the likelihood of these prizes previewing the eventual winners slate at the Oscars. (Oscar nominees are in bold, with the SAG winner in gold as well.)

BEST FILM ENSEMBLE (previewed Oscar winner 9/18 years)
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle

“August: Osage County”
“The Butler”
“Dallas Buyers Club”

The SAG lineup included just three onf the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture. The academy snubbed the SAG picks for best pic “August: Osage County” and “The Butler.” Those films that failed to find favor with SAG but number among the Oscar contenders are: “Captain Phillips,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” as well as “Gravity.” 

After being edged out by “12 Years a Slave” at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Thursday, “American Hustle” regained its footing as an Oscar frontrunner. 

Last year, SAG foresaw four of the the nine Best Picture nominees: “Argo,” “Les Miserables,”  “Lincoln,” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” They opted for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” over eventual Oscar contenders “Django Unchained,” “Life of Pi,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” The other two Oscar nominees — “Amour” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” — were ineligible with SAG.

Both SAG and the Oscars went with “Argo.” 

BEST FILM ACTOR (previewed Oscar winner 15/19 years)
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”

Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Forest Whitaker, “The Butler”

SAG voters preferred Hanks and Whitaker over eventual Oscar nominees Christian Bale (“American Hustle”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) who may have been hurt here by their films opening late in the season. 

McConaughey continues to build momentum, and wins over Oscar voters every time he delivers an acceptance speech. 

Last year, SAG foresaw four of the five eventual Best Actor Oscar nominees: Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”), Hugh Jackman (“Les Miserables”),  and Denzel Washington (“Flight”). The guild opted for John Hawkes (“The Sessions”) over Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”).

Day-Lewis won both awards. 

BEST FILM ACTRESS (previewed Oscar winner 13/19 years)
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

SAG previewed four of the five women that reaped Oscar bids with the academy snubbing Thompson in favor of Amy Adams (“American Hustle”).

Blanchett continues to pick up every precursor prize and is as close to a lock as you can get with the Oscars. 

Last year, SAG presaged just three of the nominees for Best Actress at the Oscars — Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook) and Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”) — as eventual Oscar nominees Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour) and Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild) were ineligible for these kudos. 

Lawrence won with SAG before claiming the Oscar. 

BEST FILM SUPPORTING ACTOR (previewed Oscar winner 11/19 years)
Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
X – Jared Leto “Dallas Buyers Club”

As with the lead acting races, late arrivals “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” reaped Oscar bids for Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill respectively over Globe and BFCA nominees Bruhl and Gandolfini.  

As with Blanchett, Leto looks like he is going to add an Oscar to his already crowded mantle. 

Last year SAG foresaw four of the five Oscar nominees — Alan Arkin (“Argo”), Robert De Niro (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Master”) and Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”) — but nominated Javier Bardem (“Skyfall”) over eventual Oscar champ Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained“).

The SAG winner was Jones. 

BEST FILM SUPPORTING ACTRESS (previewed Oscar winner 13/19 years)
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
X – Lupita Nyongo, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”

Oprah Winfrey, “The Butler”

Golden Globe nominee Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”) bumped Winfrey from the Oscar lineup. 

Nyongo deliverered yet another winning acceptance speech. She is poised to be a strong contender at the Oscars, with last year’s Best Actress champ Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”) her closest rival.   

Last year, SAG got three of the eventual Oscar nominees — Amy Adams (“The Master”);  Sally Field (“Lincoln”); Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”); Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”) — but opted for Nicole Kidman (“The Paperboy”) and Maggie Smith (“Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) over eventual Oscar nominees Amy Adams (“The Master”) and Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”).

Hathway won over both the guild and the academy. 

What do you think is going to win Best Picture at the Oscars? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Come back and change your predictions as often as you like till Oscar night, March 2. 



Screen Actors Guild Awards: Complete list of winners

‘American Hustle,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Modern Family’ win big at SAG Awards

What do Screen Actors Guild Awards mean for Oscars?

Does SAG Award win + Golden Globe = Oscar?

Why Elisabeth Moss and Kerry Washington lost SAG Awards

Outrageous SAG reactions: A play-by-play from our bitchy forums

SAG Awards: ‘Lupita, meet Oscar. Jared Leto has such purty hair’

SAG Awards: Good (Cate Blanchett), bad (‘Modern Family’) and ugly …


More News from GoldDerby