Will Sunday night’s SAG winners repeat at the Academy Awards? Denzel Washington (“Fences”), Emma Stone (“La La Land”), Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”), and Viola Davis (“Fences”) triumphed throughout the categories at Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, and all are nominated at the upcoming Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26. Could this be a year when it happens that the guild correctly predicts all four acting winners?
Hint — it would be quite a feat, given how rare an occurrence it is. Since 1994, when the guild first started handing out prizes, SAG has correctly predicted all four acting Oscar winners only six times: 1997, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014. (Technically, 1997 only partly correlated, since eventual Oscar victor Kim Basinger for “L.A. Confidential” tied Gloria Stuart for “Titanic” at the guild.) Generally speaking, there’s at least one discrepancy, if not more. In some years, in fact, only one of the SAG picks went on to repeat at the academy, so it’s not always the most reliable resource.
In the early days of the SAG Awards, voters could be seen as making up for lost time. The first year, Jodie Foster won Best Actress for “Nell” (1994) after winning two Oscars (“The Accused” in 1988 and “The Silence of the Lambs” in 1991) in years before they started handing out prizes; she ultimately lost at the academy to Jessica Lange (“Blue Sky”). Later SAG honorees like Kathy Bates (“Primary Colors”), Robert Duvall (“A Civil Action”), Christopher Walken (“Catch Me If You Can”), and Meryl Streep (“Doubt”) made good on past Oscar wins to prevail at the guild, even if their victories didn’t ultimately repeat at the academy. So their spotty predictions record in the beginning can be excused, and their batting average has improved significantly in recent years.
This year, Stone, Ali, and Davis are all frontrunners in their respective categories, so they might be safe, although even those categories have had some disagreement at various awards show. The category with the most mystery is probably Best Actor. Going in, Casey Affleck was widely expected to continue his winning streak following Globe and Critics’ Choice victories for “Manchester by the Sea,” but was upset by Washington, who had never won a SAG Award, despite having two Academy Awards (supporting for “Glory” and lead for “Training Day”). You could justify this as the guild once again making good on previous Oscar victories, but it could also signal a sea change in that race.
Two years ago, Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) shocked everyone by beating frontrunner Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) at the guild, pointing the way towards his eventual Oscar triumph (that year, by the way, was one of the few where the SAG winners matched up perfectly with the academy). There have been other recent examples of this, including Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) besting George Clooney (“The Descendants”), Sean Penn (“Milk”) prevailing over Mickey Rourke (“The Wrestler”), and Roberto Benigni (“Life is Beautiful”) pulling ahead of Ian McKellen (“Gods and Monsters”) and Nick Nolte (“Affliction”).
Will the SAG winners go 4-for-4 at the Oscars this year? Make your Academy Awards picks now and tell industry insiders which films and performers you have out front to win on February 26. You can keep changing them until just before show time. Be sure to make your predictions right here. You’ll compete for a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s nominees). Read our contest rules.