As well as honoring individuals, the SAG Awards honor the casts of films. And with the emphasis on the performances, the more the better say the members of the Screen Actors Guild. To that end, films that have few eligible roles, such as “La La Land” last year, tend to be snubbed even though they may be strong Oscar contenders.
Conversely, movies that aren’t in the top tier of Best Picture prospects at the Oscars often reap SAG Awards ensemble bids. In 2016, “Trumbo” did just that as did both “August: Osage County” and “The Butler” in 2014.
This year, the star vehicle “Murder on the Orient Express” could well number among the five SAG Awards ensemble nominees. Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh directed this remake of the Oscar-winning 1974 film based on the Agatha Christie crime classic. He also plays the portly Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who must solve a killing that takes place on a snowbound luxury train.
He assembled one of the most celebrated casts of the year: Oscar winners Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love”) and Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”); Emmy winner Derek Jacobi; and Tony winner Leslie Odom. Also on board are Oscar nominees Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, and Michelle Pfeiffer; Emmy nominee Olivia Colman; and Tony nominee Josh Gad; as well as recent “Star Wars” sensation Daisy Ridley.
This is not Branagh’s first time playing a famous literary detective. He earned an Emmy nomination in 2009 for playing Swedish crimesolver Kurt Wallander in the “Wallander” TV mysteries on PBS. And Branagh knows his way around directing a beloved story, having helmed film versions of everything from Shakespeare (“Hamlet,” “Henry V”) to fairy tales (Disney’s live-action “Cinderella” in 2015) to comic books (Marvel’s “Thor”). He has earned Oscar nominations in five different categories: Best Director (“Henry V,” 1989), Best Actor (“Henry V,” 1989), Best Live-Action Short (“Swan Song,” 1992), Best Adapted Screenplay (“Hamlet,” 1996) and Best Supporting Actor (“My Week with Marilyn,” 2011).
Several of Branagh’s ensemble feature in other high-profile pictures this awards season. Dafoe is the Best Supporting Actor Oscar frontrunner for “The Florida Project,” Pfeiffer was praised for her role in “mother!” and Ridley and Gad star in two of the year’s biggest films in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Beauty and the Beast,” respectively.
Sidney Lumet‘s 1974 film featured an equally starry cast. The critically acclaimed box office smash was nominated for six Oscars: Best Actor (Albert Finney), Best Supporting Actress (Ingrid Bergman), Best Adapted Screenplay (Paul Dehn), Best Cinematography (Geoffrey Unsworth), Best Original Score (Richard Rodney Bennett), and Best Costume Design (Tony Walton). In the film’s only win, Bergman earned her third Oscar for her performance in the film as the missionary; Cruz is playing that part this time around.
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions too so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.