SAG Awards shockers could mean Oscar upsets

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. Over the past 22 years, these kudos have previewed 64 of the 88 Oscar winners for acting (if you count Benicio del Toro, who won in lead at SAG in 2000 for “Traffic” and supporting at the Oscars and Kate Winslet who did the reverse, winning supporting at SAG in 2008 for “The Reader” and lead at the Oscars).

And there have been six years (1997, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014) when the four SAG winners went on to take home Oscars. That is is all great news for Denzel Washington (“Fences”) and Emma Stone (“La La Land”), who won the lead awards, as well as supporting champs Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) and Viola Davis (“Fences”).

The guild is far less reliable when predicting Best Picture. In the 21-year history of the Best Ensemble award, that winner went on to take Oscar’s top prize only 11 times. That bodes well for the Oscar prospects of “La La Land,” which was snubbed in this race. However, SAG has presaged two of Oscar’s biggest upsets: “Shakespeare in Love” over “Saving Private Ryan” in 1998, and “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005. That latter win marked the first for a film that had been sent on screener to the entire membership.

Three of this year’s nominees for Best Ensemble — “Fences,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight” — sent out screeners while “Hidden Figures” (and “Captain Fantastic”) were available online. That fact makes the surprise win by “Hidden Figures” over the predicted winner “Moonlight” even more impressive.

And it could be the break “Hidden Figures” needs heading into Oscar balloting. With rave reviews and boffo box office, this heartwarming true story of the unsung heroines of the space race is likely to be ranked quite high on the preferential ballots of academy members.

Below, we handicap the likelihood of this year’s SAG Awards winners becoming the eventual Oscar champs.

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BEST ENSEMBLE (previewed Oscar winner 11/21 years)
“Captain Fantastic”
“Fences”
X – “Hidden Figures”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

The SAG lineup includes four of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture; “Captain Fantastic” didn’t make the cut. The other five contenders for the top Academy Award are: “Arrival,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,””La La Land” and “Lion.” While the union embraced the nine-person cast of “Hidden Figures,” we are predicting “La La Land,” a film focused primarily on its two stars, to win Best Picture.

BEST ACTOR (previewed Oscar winner 18/22 years)
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
X – Denzel Washington, “Fences”

This is your Oscar line-up as well. Affleck had won a large share of the critics awards and the Globe as well but with a win here, Washington could be on his way to his third Oscar (he won supporting for “Glory” in 1989 and lead for “Training Day” in 2001). Remember, SAG was where Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) pulled off an upset over Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) two years ago before repeating at the Oscars.

BEST ACTRESS (previewed Oscar winner 16/22 years)
Amy Adams, “Arrival”
Emily Blunt, “The Girl on the Train”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
X – Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

The Oscars endorsed three of the five SAG nominees, substituting Gallic import Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) for Blunt and Irish actress Ruth Negga (“Loving”) for Adams. Huppert had pulled off an upset at the Globes over Portman, who needed a win here to reignite her momentum. With her victory here, Stone looks unstoppable at the Oscars. (The original version of this post mistakenly referred to Adams as an Oscar nominee.)

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (previewed Oscar winner 13/22 years)
X – Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Hugh Grant, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”

The academy snubbed Grant, who has never contended for an Oscar, in favor of past nominee Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals”). Ali, who prevailed here, is the favorite at the Oscars too.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (previewed Oscar winner 16/22 years)
X – Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

SAG also previewed the five Oscar nominees in this category. Davis is the closest thing we have to a lock at the Oscars.

Predict the Oscar winners now; change them till February 26

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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