SAG Awards snub for ‘La La Land’ is mere bump on road to Oscar

La La Land” did not make the cut for Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards but that needn’t mean much for this frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars. The Screen Actors Guild has been handing out a prize for Best Ensemble since its second awardsfest in 1995. That first winner was “Apollo 13,” which went on to lose the top Oscar to a film that had been snubbed by SAG, “Braveheart.” Indeed, only 11 of the 21 Best Ensemble champs have gone on to take Best Picture at the Oscars.

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Why such a disconnect between the two awards groups? As you can see from the list of winners below, guild members always go for films that are truly ensembles. Sure, they may be led by a big name, as was the case with Tom Hanks in “Apollo 13,” but these SAG choices can also boast of having plenty of parts of varying sizes. Of the 21 Best Ensemble winners, an even dozen numbered at least 10 actors in the honor roll of recipients.

As per the “Submissions” section of the rules, ensemble awards recipients are restricted to “those actors billed on separate cards in the main titles.” All others included in the cast crawl receive a certificate. To that end, 2001 winner “Gosford Park” listed 20 actors while that year’s Oscar winner, “A Beautiful Mind,” had 11. The previous year, the 19 cast members of “Traffic” won Best Ensemble over, among others, the seven from eventual Oscar champ “Gladiator.

“La La Land” is essentially a two-hander between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, both of whom were nominated for their performances. While the credited cast does include Rosemarie Witt and John Legend, the multitude that appear in the jaw-dropping opening number would have been entitled only to certificates.

Of this year’s nominees, the biggest surprise was “Captain Fantastic,” which has 13 credited actors. Of the other nominees,”Hidden Figures” counts nine, “Fences” and “Moonlight” have seven apiece, and “Manchester by the Sea” is at six.

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Here is the year-by-year breakdown of how many SAG ensemble winners repeated at the Oscars.

1995: “Apollo 13” (SAG); “Braveheart” (Oscars; not nominated at SAG)
1996:  “The Birdcage” (SAG;; not nominated at Oscars); “The English Patient” (Oscars)
1997: “The Full Monty” (SAG); “Titanic” (Oscars)
1998: “Shakespeare in Love” (SAG & Oscars)
1999: “American Beauty” (SAG & Oscars)
2000: “Traffic” (SAG); “Gladiator” (Oscars)
2001: “Gosford Park” (SAG); “A Beautiful Mind” (Oscars)
2002: “Chicago” (SAG & Oscars)
2003: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ” (SAG & Oscars)
2004: “Sideways” (SAG); “Million Dollar Baby” (Oscars)
2005: “Crash” (SAG & Oscars)
2006: “Little Miss Sunshine” (SAG); “Million Dollar Baby” (Oscars)
2007: “No Country for Old Men” (SAG & Oscars)
2008: “Slumdog Millionaire”  (SAG & Oscars)
2009: “Inglourious Basterds “(SAG); “The Hurt Locker” (Oscars)
2010: “The King’s Speech”  (SAG & Oscars)
2011: “The Help” (SAG); “The Artist” (Oscars)
2012: “Argo”  (SAG & Oscars)
2013: “American Hustle “(SAG); “12 Years a Slave” (Oscars)
2014: “Birdman”  (SAG & Oscars)
2015: “Spotlight”  (SAG & Oscars)

The SAG Awards, honoring the best achievements in film and television performances for the year 2016, will be presented on Jan. 29, 2017 on both TNT and TBS beginning at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT. Lily Tomlin will be feted with the Life Achievement Award.

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