Three years ago, Frances McDormand became the first person to win lead actress twice at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, breaking the notorious category curse. Now she’s in the running again with “Nomadland” and a victory at Sunday’s pre-taped ceremony would make her the first woman and second person overall to take home three lead statuettes for film.
An eight-time nominee, McDormand nabbed her first lead actress SAG Award for “Fargo” (1996) and waited 21 years go add her second for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017). Daniel Day-Lewis is thus far the only performer with three lead SAG Awards, having prevailed in lead actor for “Gangs of New York” (2002), “There Will Be Blood” (2007) and “Lincoln” (2012). He’s actually never lost an individual SAG Awards race, a record that will remain intact unless he comes out of retirement. Renee Zellweger has also amassed three individual film trophies, but one of hers was in supporting, for “Cold Mountain” (2003), while the other two were in lead, “Chicago” (2002) and “Judy” (2019).
Currently in third place in our odds, McDormand trails Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) and five-time SAG Award winner Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), who could mimic Zellweger’s individual haul of two lead wins and one supporting win in film. Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) is in fourth and Amy Adams (“Hillbilly Elegy”) is in fifth.
McDormand’s quiet, internalized performance is not what SAG-AFTRA voters usually go for, but she is a highly respected star and “Nomadland” is the undisputed Oscar frontrunner. She hasn’t won any of the precursors yet, but with the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award going to different people, Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”) and Mulligan, respectively, and with Day not nominated at SAG, she can assert herself in a fairly open race at the first industry precursor.
If McDormand, who has two additional SAG Awards for her leading role in TV’s “Olive Kitteridge” and as part of the “Three Billboards” ensemble, does win, the next question will be if she can go on to take the Oscar. She’s translated her previous two SAG victories into Oscar gold. Day-Lewis and Zellweger are both 2/3, their defeats coming in the same year: DDL lost the Oscar for “Gangs of New York” to Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”) and Zellweger fell to Nicole Kidman (“The Hours”) with her “Chicago” bid.
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