What do SAG Awards nominations tell us about the Oscars?

By Zach Laws
By Zach Laws
Dec 12 2012 13:04 pm
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The Screen Actors Guild nominations have become one of our most useful Oscar predictors. This year, “Lincoln,” “Les Miserables” and “Silver Linings Playbook” tied with four nominations apiece, including Best Ensemble. Rounding out the contenders for that top prize are “Argo” and “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” which also picked up one individual acting bid apiece.

The only film to win Best Picture without, at least a SAG ensemble nomination, was "Braveheart" in 1995. Left out off the SAG list this year were Oscar hopefuls “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Life of Pi,” “Django Unchained,” “The Master,” and “Moonrise Kingdom." But remember, the Oscars will have up to 10 contenders in that race. 

Here’s what we’ve learned from the SAG nominations:

BEST ENSEMBLE
"Argo"; "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"; "Les Miserables"; "Lincoln"; "Silver Linings Playbook"

Last year, four of SAG’s picks for Best Ensemble were nominated for Best Picture: “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “The Help,” and “Midnight in Paris;” “Bridesmaids” was left out. “The Help” won at SAG, while “The Artist” won Best Picture.

It’s important to remember that the SAG Ensemble is just that: an award for the Best Cast, not necessarily the Best Picture.

Since 1998, eight of SAG’s picks have gone on to win Best Picture: “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), “American Beauty” (1999), “Chicago” (2002), “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), “Crash” (2005), “No Country for Old Men” (2007), “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), and “The King’s Speech” (2010).

And only one film, “The Birdcage” (1996), has won the SAG Ensemble prize and then not been nominated for Best Picture.

“Argo,” “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” and “Silver Linings Playbook” all look like solid Best Picture nominees. But what about “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?” It’s a film that Academy members love, and with films like “Django Unchained” and “The Master” showing signs of weakness, is it time to make room for this British crowd-pleaser?
 

BEST ACTOR
Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”); Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”); John Hawkes (“The Sessions”); Hugh Jackman (“Les Miserables”); Denzel Washington (“Flight”)

Last year, four of SAG’s picks repeated at the Oscars: Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”), George Clooney (“The Descendants”), Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), and Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”); Leonardo Di Caprio (“J. Edgar”) was replaced by Gary Oldman (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”). Dujardin won both SAG and the Oscar.

This is a major blow for Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”), who may have caused himself too much damage by his bristling comments. Cooper continues to overcome the pretty-boy stigma that has blocked so many actors from nominations. Meanwhile, Day-Lewis looks poised to win his third SAG Award for Best Actor after “Gangs of New York” (2002) and “There Will Be Blood” (2007), unless Jackman can sneak in.
 

BEST ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain
(“Zero Dark Thirty”); Marion Cotillard (“Rust and Bone”); Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”); Helen Mirren (“Hitchcock”); Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”)

Last year, four of SAG’s picks repeated at the Oscars: Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs”), Viola Davis (“The Help”), Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”), and Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn”); Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) was replaced by Rooney Mara (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”). Davis won SAG, while Streep won the Oscar.

Surprisingly omitted was Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”), who was nominated by the BFCA yesterday and has been racking up critics prizes along the way. Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) was deemed ineligible due to union regulations.

Mirren gets a big boost today, as does Watts, who is looking more and more like a sure bet after this and her BFCA nomination. Could either replace Riva or Wallis at the Oscars? As for the win, this will be a very telling victory for either Chastain or Lawrence. 
 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alan Arkin (“Argo”), Javier Bardem (“Skyfall”), Robert De Niro (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Master”), Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”)

Last year, four of SAG’s picks repeated at the Oscars: Kenneth Branagh (“My Week with Marilyn”), Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”), Nick Nolte (“Warrior”), and Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”); Armie Hammer (“J. Edgar”) was replaced by Max von Sydow (“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”). Plummer won both SAG and the Oscar.

Another snub for the “Django Unchained” men; are they causing too much competition amongst themselves? There’s still a chance that Christoph Waltz, #Leonardo Di Caprio#, or Samuel L. Jackson could replace Bardem, but the film doesn’t seem to be gaining the kind of traction it needed. Given Bardem’s popularity within the Academy – he won Supporting Actor for “No Country for Old Men” and was nominated in Lead for “Before Night Falls” (2000) and “Biutiful” (2010) – these could be our five nominees.

Conspicuously left out was Matthew McConaughey (“Magic Mike”), who won NYFCC and was nominated by BFCA. The same scenario played out last year with Albert Brooks (“Drive”): he won the NYFCC and was nominated by both the BFCA and Golden Globes before being snubbed by SAG and the Oscars. 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Field (“Lincoln”); Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”); Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”); Nicole Kidman (“The Paperboy”); Maggie Smith (“Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”)

Last year, all five of SAG’s picks repeated at the Oscars: Berenice Bejo (“The Artist”), Jessica Chastain (“The Help”), Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”), Janet McTeer (“Albert Nobbs”), and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”). Spencer won both SAG and the Oscar.

The big surprise here is Kidman’s nomination for the critically maligned “The Paperboy.” Kidman beat out Amy Adams (“The Master”), Judi Dench (“Skyfall”), Samantha Barks (“Les Miserables”), Ann Dowd (“Compliance”) and Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”) for that fifth slot. Whether or not this will translate into an Oscar nomination is uncertain; the Golden Globe nominations will be telling.

 
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