“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” became the fourth film to win a record three Screen Actors Guild Awards in one night after “American Beauty” (1999), “Chicago” (2002) and “The Help” (2011). Now it’ll try to do what none of the three were able to: convert those wins into three Oscar wins.
All of the previous three films won the cast SAG prize. “American Beauty” bagged lead trophies for Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening, while “Chicago” and “The Help” swept the SAG actress categories for Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, respectively. At the Oscars, each film won an acting award for Spacey, Zeta-Jones and Spencer, and only “American Beauty” and “Chicago” won Best Picture, with “The Help” falling to “The Artist.” Strangely, all three lost Best Actress: Bening to Hilary Swank (“Boys Don’t Cry”), Zellweger to Nicole Kidman (“The Hours”) and Davis to Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”).
“Three Billboards” claimed the cast award, lead actress for Frances McDormand and supporting actor for Sam Rockwell, with McDormand being the first person to win her category twice (nope, not even Meryl Streep did that). Consensus has been solidly building around the acting winners — Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”) and Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) being the other two — so McDormand and Rockwell appear locked and loaded for Oscar. SAG has matched with the Best Actress Oscar 17 times in its 23-year history and with Best Supporting Actor 14 times.
Best Picture is its shakiest prospect of the three, partially because it’s not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison between a cast acting award and Best Picture. Only 11 of the previous 22 SAG cast winners have won Best Picture at the Oscars, since sometimes SAG purely honors a film’s ensemble, which may not come from a Best Picture favorite. “The Help” is an instance of that, as is the sprawling “Hidden Figures” cast prevailing at SAG last year over eventual Best Picture champ “Moonlight.” Both films, while nominated, were never in the conversation for the top Oscar.
In “Three Biillboards”’s case, it is a Best Picture favorite after four Golden Globe wins and now three SAG wins, in addition to strong showings with the guilds and BAFTA, but the Martin McDonagh film is weathering a backlash due to its problematic handling of race, among other issues. It’s divisive, which hurts it on a preferential ballot, and it already lost on a preferential ballot at the Producers Guild Awards to “The Shape of Water.” If the backlash intensifies over the next month, it could slide down voters’ ballots even farther.
Do you think “Three Billboards” will win all three awards at the Oscars?
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