When it comes to the Screen Actors Guild Awards, it might be easy to assume that the larger the cast, the better shot a movie has at winning the award for film ensemble. After all, that’s more objectively talented people giving top-tier performances per minute, right? Sadly, that’s not how this works, but it is true that the film with the largest cast has often walked away a winner on the big night.
In the 25-year history of the ensemble film award — it was added at the second ceremony — the movie with the largest cast has won the award 11 times. That’s 44 percent of the time. The triumphant films were, in order, “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) with 12 eligible cast members, “Traffic” (2000) with 19, “Gosford Park” (2001) with 20, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) with 19, “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) with 11, “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) with 16, “The King’s Speech” (2010) with nine, “The Help” (2011) with 12, “Argo” (2012) with 13, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017) with 11 and “Black Panther” (2018) with 12.
SAG Awards rules stipulate that only actors with their own title card are eligible for the award, so while some movies obviously feature larger ensembles than others, not every actor is eligible to be included. This year, the nominee with the largest ensemble is Spike Lee’s Vietnam War film “Da 5 Bloods,” with a total of 15 credited actors, including the late Chadwick Boseman, who was also nominated as part of the cast of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (six actors), as well as in the lead and supporting actor races as well. He is the first person to ever be nominated for four film awards in the same year. The rest of the nominated casts are: “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “One Night in Miami,” which both feature 10 credited actors, and “Minari,” which has seven. Only “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “Minari” are Best Picture Oscar nominees, which gives them an edge as “The Birdcage” (1996) is the only SAG ensemble winner that did not earn a Best Picture nomination.
According to Gold Derby’s combined odds, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which tells the story of the real-life Chicago 7, who were anti-Vietnam War protesters charged with several crimes, is currently predicted to be the night’s big winner, with 11 Experts picking it to triumph. “Minari” currently sits in second place with 37/10 odds, followed by “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (4/1 odds), “One Night in Miami” (9/2 odds) and “Da 5 Bloods” (9/2 odds).
While “The Trial of the Chicago 7” might not have the largest nominated cast, if it should win on April 4, it will make history, as Michael Keaton, who appears in just two scenes in the film, would become the first person in history to win three ensemble SAG Awards. He previously won as a member of the casts of “Birdman” (2014) and “Spotlight” (2015).
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