Going by the past voting pattern of the Screen Actors Guild, the chances are nearly 50/50 that the winner among nominees announced Wednesday for performance by a cast award will go on to pair it with a Best Picture Oscar on March 4. Of the previous winners since the SAG award was initiated in 1995, 12 have doubled up with an Oscar while 11 have had to rest on their SAG laurels.
But the glaring absence on the SAG ballot of four presumed Oscar frontrunners — “The Post,” “The Shape of Water,” “Dunkirk” and “Call Me By Your Name” — makes those odds just a little bit longer. The guild recognized five worthy movies — “The Big Sick,” “Get Out,” “Ladybird,” “Mudbound” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” — but oh, my.
If one of those omitted frontrunners was to win the best picture Oscar, it would be only the second film to do it. Mel Gibson’s 1995 “Braveheart” won the Oscar after being overlooked by the actors’ guild. The next year, “Birdcage” won the SAG award but did not make the Oscar ballot. Since then, no SAG winner has been left off the Academy Award ballot.
With the Best Picture Oscar category expanded to as many as 10 films in 2009, it’s unlikely any SAG winner will ever be left off the Academy Award ballot.
While the SAG cast award is not officially a best picture award, it is largely — and logically — taken to do just that. If the cast of a movie, the stars and supporting players, stand out to fellow actors for their performances, it’s reasonable to assume the bulk of them fell in love with it the whole affair.
This is especially true when one or more of the individual cast members is also nominated. On that score, give this year’s advantage to “Three Billboards” and “Lady Bird,” each landing separate nominations in lead and supporting categories.
Only two films have won the SAG award without receiving individual nominations: “The Full Monty” and the third of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, whose two previous legs were nominees for both SAG and Oscar awards.
The eligible casts for the SAG award are those actors with separate title cards, usually those listed in the opening credits, with the entire cast of the winner receiving certificates. With the exception of “The Full Monty” (a charmer that was a pure team effort and which defeated one of the best ensembles ever assembled in “L.A. Confidential”), the winning casts tended to be well-known actors or those with multiple roles that popped off the screen.
Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 “Inglourious Basterds” played like an ultra-violent version of Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles,” with so many stand-out characters in the service of QT’s master dialogue and sharply defined characters that it literally screamed “ensemble!”
Other cast winners with pronounced individual performances include the 2000’s “Traffic,” the 2002 musical “Chicago,” the 2005 “Crash,” and 2012’s “The Help.”
Most of the winners feature large ensembles, but that was not true of 2004’s “Sideways,” essentially a four-member cast, three of whom (Paul Giamatti, Thomas Hayden Church and Virginia Madsen) had individual actor nominations. It beat Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” whose star-studded ensemble cast is as long as a flight to Las Vegas.
Back to the present, the movie that has seems to have taken the biggest hit in the SAG nominations is Steven Spielberg’s “The Post.” Besides missing a spot on the cast ballot, SAG denied nominations for its stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep (how dare they?). Given the film’s timely defense of a beleaguered free press, recalling Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and editor Ben Bradlee’s courageous publication of the Pentagon Papers, it has the awards scent of catnip all over it.
The last movie with such an obvious awards pedigree to miss a SAG cast nomination was “Munich,” another Spielberg-directed movie. (Hmmmm. “The Color Purple” anyone?).
But “The Post,” like Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” and Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World,” is a year-end release, further crimping the viewing window of SAG members trying to see the two dozen or so movies to be viewed and considered in the final weeks leading up to the Dec. 10 voting deadline.
Voters in the actors branch of the academy have until Feb. 27 to make their decisions, long after the last float in the parade of fan, critic and guild awards have been handed out. Such luxury.
Be sure to make your SAG predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on January 21. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 SAG Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our movie forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.