Last year, the Screen Actors Guild Awards foresaw 17 of the eventual 20 Oscar nominees for acting. In 2016, it previewed a lucky 13 Oscar contenders while in 2015 it also went 17 for 20. In both 2013 and 2012, the guild nominated 14 of the performers who went on to contend at the Oscars. This success rate is respectable enough. However, historically, we had counted on the SAG Awards to presage upwards of 18 of the score of performers that reaped Oscar bids.
The reason for the dip is due to the merger of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) with the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA). This changed the composition of the nominating committee enough that it no longer mirrors that of the acting branch at the academy.
At the time of the merger, SAG had just under 100,000 members of whom approximately 40,000 were also AFTRA members and already eligible to vote on the SAG Awards. The AFTRA membership list totaled 65,000, so that means 25,000 new voters have been added to the ranks of SAG award voters.
Most of those newbies are not actors. Many of them are TV news and sports anchors, reporters, political commentators, meteorologists and soap stars. So how are they affecting the award results?
Everyone in the combined union can vote for the winners of BOTH the film and TV Screen Actors Guild Awards. Until last year, some of those one-time AFTRA folk — like the talking heads on CNN and Fox News — were eligible to take part in the nominating process to determine the best thespians on television. But the guild changed the rules so that both committees are composed of only those rank and film members over the age of 16 who are listed in the database as an actor/performer, dancer singer or stunt person.