According to exclusive Gold Derby statistics, the cast of "The Help" will be helping themselves to a load of Screen Actors Guild statuettes this Sunday. The margin is somewhat close between the 1960's Civil Rights film holding 2/3 odds over the black-and-white silent picture "The Artist" at 5/1 in the race for Best Film Ensemble. Eleven of our 13 experts, eight of nine editors, and 47% of our users predict Tate Taylor's adaptation of the blockbuster novel to prevail.
That "The Help" is predicted to prevail is due to two main reasons. It has the most individual acting nominations (Viola Davis in lead; Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer in supporting). And it has the largest nominated cast, including a blend of industry veterans (Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Cicely Tyson) and younger performers (Bryce Dallas Howard, Emma Stone).
Michel Hazanavicius' "The Artist" is considered to be the Academy Awards frontrunner for Best Picture. A loss in this ensemble category won't dampen its Oscar hopes too much. In recent years, "The Hurt Locker," "The Departed," and "Million Dollar Baby" did not win big at SAG but did pick up the Oscar weeks later.
The other films competing as top ensemble are Alexander Payne's Hawaiian-based "The Descendants" (in third place at 13/2) plus Paul Feig's raunchy comedy "Bridesmaids" and Woody Allen's romantic film "Midnight in Paris" (tied for last place at 16/1).
Davis herself might add to "The Help"'s haul with a victory in the Best Film Actress category. She recently received the same prize at the Critics' Choice Awards and is in first place with 4/5 odds and the support of 11 of 13 experts, six of nine editors, and 44% of our users.
Her closest competitor is recent Golden Globe champ Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") at 13/5, who won this same category in 2009 for "Doubt." This is her 12th SAG nod in the film categories, plus she has another trophy for her TV work in "Angels in America."
Another Globe champ, Michelle Williams ("My Week with Marilyn"), is in third place at 10/1. Tied for last place at 25/1 are Glenn Close ("Albert Nobbs") and Tilda Swinton ("We Need to Talk About Kevin"). Other than Streep, the only previous SAG winner is Close, who earned a TV win for "The Lion in Winter."
Surprisingly, George Clooney has never won a SAG Award for his film work either as an individual or as part of an ensemble. He does have four trophies for being in the "E.R." ensemble on television. He is now favored with 4/7 odds to prevail as Best Film Actor in "The Descendants" over his good friend Brad Pitt ("Moneyball") at 11/2. Clooney is the choice of all 13 experts, seven of nine editors, and 55% of our users.
Pitt is the only man in this category with a previous SAG victory for film ("Inglourious Basterds" ensemble). Jean Dujardin ("The Artist") is just a shade behind Pitt at 13/2 and is followed by Leonardo DiCaprio ("J. Edgar") at 20/1 and Demian Bichir ("A Better Life") at 33/1.
In the race for Best Film Supporting Actress, Spencer is the clear frontrunner for her role as the feisty maid Minny Jackson. She has commanding 4/7 odds and the support of 11 of 13 experts, all nine editors, and 61% of our users.
Her closest competitor could be her co-star Chastain at 13/2. Next up is Berenice Bejo ("The Artist") in a role that has tons of screentime and is the borderline lead female in the film. Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids") at 10/1 and Janet McTeer ("Albert Nobbs") trail much further behind. All of these ladies are first-time SAG nominees except for McTeer, who received a previous bid for "Tumbleweeds" in 2000.
Much like Spencer, veteran thespian Christopher Plummer ("Beginners") has been romping through awards season, winning every Best Film Supporting Actor prize in sight. He has three previous SAG nods with no wins and is now favored with 2/5 odds, and is the choice of all 13 experts, all 11 editors, and 69% of our users.
Kenneth Branagh ("My Week with Marilyn") played legendary actor Sir Laurence Olivier and is in second place at 13/2. Two-time SAG nominee Nick Nolte ("Warrior") is next at 12/1. The only SAG rookie in the field is Jonah Hill ("Moneyball"), who is in fourth place at 16/1. Bringing up the rear is Armie Hammer ("J. Edgar") at 33/1.
Earliest Oscars Predictions Ever
Our Oscarologists are busy updating their predictions as they see more and more contenders. Make your early picks now -- click here -- and change them later as the derby heats up.