‘Crazy Rich Asians’ could become latest summer film to crash ensemble award at SAG

Crazy Rich Asians” may not be predicted to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, but its chances of scoring the all-important ensemble bid at the Screen Actors Guild Awards are better than you might think. Almost every year this decade has included at least one unexpected SAG ensemble nominee that was released in the summer and did not go on to a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The acclaimed cast from “Crazy Rich Asians” could very well make it the film that takes that unique slot at the upcoming SAG Awards.

This particular slot has gone to major summer releases like “Bridesmaids” (2011), “The Butler” (2013) and “Straight Outta Compton” (2015), as well as independent films like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (2012), “Captain Fantastic” (2016) and “The Big Sick” (2017). Most of these films were runaway successes at the box office, with audiences typically responding very positively to them. Sound familiar? “Crazy Rich Asians” has grossed over $173 million at the U.S. box office since its release in August, with an “A” CinemaScore and glowing reviews to boot. The cast features well-known actors such as Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh and Ken Jeong alongside rising stars like Awkwafina, Henry Golding and Gemma Chan, who all play off each other in a way that makes the film feel like a true ensemble.

Like a great majority of those past SAG ensemble nominees, at least one member of the cast has snuck into one of the individual acting categories. This has happened for Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”), Maggie Smith (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”), Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey (“The Butler”), Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”) and Holly Hunter (“The Big Sick”). With Yeoh being such a strong contender in the supporting actress race, it’s possible she could be that individual representative for “Crazy Rich Asians” even if she doesn’t get nominated elsewhere.

The Screen Actors Guild is the one organization that could be most supportive of “Crazy Rich Asians,” considering its membership. SAG not only includes film stars but TV actors as well, some of which may have worked with television regulars like Wu and Chan, plus those who have straddled the line between film and TV for many years like Jeong and Yeoh. Wu, Golding, Chan, Awkwafina, Jeong and Yeoh would all be nominated in the top category as well as Lisa Lu and Harry Shum Jr., the latter of whom is the only member of the cast with previous SAG experience, having been nominated four times in a row as part of the cast of “Glee.” It’s also no secret that actors of Asian descent have been vastly under-appreciated by the industry and awards bodies at large, so voting for “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first all-Asian cast to lead a present-day Hollywood film in 25 years, would be making a powerful statement.

Gold Derby odds currently have “Crazy Rich Asians” just outside the top five of SAG nominees, following “The Favourite,” “A Star Is Born,” “Widows,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Vice.” All of these films were/will be releasing in the October-December range, leaving no room for that summer release slot. But when you consider how many people within SAG will have seen “Crazy Rich Asians” and appreciate it not only for its classic story but for what it represents in Hollywood, it would be foolish to underestimate it.

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