Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant“) is the frontrunner to win Best Actor at the SAG Awards according to the combined predictions of Expert film journalists we’ve polled, along with Gold Derby Editors who cover awards year-round, the Top 24 Users who got the top scores predicting last year’s nominations and the more than 1000 total Users who make up the largest (and often savviest) bloc of predictors. But can he overtake the defending champ Eddie Redmayne, who won last year for “The Theory of Everything” and is back with “The Danish Girl“?
He has contended four times for individual performances – “The Aviator” (Best Actor, 2004), “Blood Diamond” (Best Actor, 2006), “The Departed” (Best Supporting Actor, 2006) and “J. Edgar” (Best Actor, 2011) – along with four more bids for ensemble acting – “Marvin’s Room” (1996), “Titanic” (1997), “The Aviator” (2004) and “The Departed” (2006) – but he has yet to win in any category.
Is this finally his year?
Remember that it was at last year’s SAG Awards that Redmayne first pulled ahead of presumed frontrunner Michael Keaton (“Birdman“) in the Best Actor race before ultimately claiming Oscar. Can he do it again? Last year was Redmayne’s first individual acting recognition from SAG; he was also nominated twice for Best Film Ensemble, for “Theory” and “Les Miserables” (2012). But this year Redmayne ranks third with odds of 5/1.
If DiCaprio needs to worry about anyone, it may be Michael Fassbender (“Steve Jobs“), who holds second place with 3/1 odds. He has never won for an individual performance, but he did share a Best Film Ensemble victory with his co-stars in “Inglourious Basterds” (2009).
In fourth place with odds of 15/2 is Johnny Depp (“Black Mass“), and there’s reason to believe he could be a strong threat to win. He pulled off a major upset for Best Actor in 2003 by defeating Bill Murray (“Lost in Translation”) and eventual Oscar champ Sean Penn (“Mystic River”) with his comic turn in “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”
Expected to round out the category is Matt Damon (“The Martian“) with 11/1 odds. Like DiCaprio, Damon is still awaiting his first win. He has contended six times before: individual acting noms for “Good Will Hunting” (Best Actor, 1997), “Invictus” (Best Supporting Actor, 2009) and “Behind the Candelabra” (Best TV Movie/Miniseries Actor, 2013) as well as ensemble bids for “Good Will,” “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and “The Departed” (2006).
So if DiCaprio wins SAG, does he have Oscar in the bag? This guild is a strong predictor of the academy’s individual acting awards. 81% of winners (17 out of 21) in this category line up with Oscar, including the last 11 in a row.
The four years that the guild and academy disagreed were consecutive, though it depends on how you count Benicio Del Toro. He won Best Actor at SAG in 2000 for “Traffic,” while the academy recognized him in the supporting category instead. That was good news for Russell Crowe, who took the Best Actor Oscar for “Gladiator” that year.
Crowe won SAG the following year for “A Beautiful Mind,” but that time the Oscars went with Denzel Washington (“Training Day”).
Because of the close correlation between SAG and Oscar for Best Actor, this is one of the most important races to watch in determining the ultimate Oscar champ.
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Leonardo DiCaprio photo credit: Moviestore/REX
Eddie Redmayne photo credit: REX