SAG Awards: Does the ‘King Richard’ ensemble nomination make Will Smith a lock for Best Actor?

Will Smith is leading our odds to win Best Actor at the SAG Awards for his performance as Richard Williams in “King Richard,” and the guild may have told us just how much of a frontrunner he really is. Smith is the only Best Actor contender to also share in a bid with his cast in the Best Ensemble category. Is that the edge he needs to finally take home his first SAG Award?

SEE: SAG Awards nominated lead actors: Javier Bardem, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield…

Looking back at SAG Awards history, the eventual winner for Best Actor also earned a nomination in ensemble 16 out of 26 times. More significantly, this overlap has occurred seven times in the past 10 years alone: Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”), Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), Denzel Washington (“Fences”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”).

The three Best Actor champs that weren’t also nominated in ensemble — Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant,” Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour” and Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker” — did not star in films with the kinds of sizable casts we often see nominated in the top category.

Smith’s turn in “King Richard” is dominant, but the film also provides showcase moments for the supporting cast, including veterans Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal and Tony Goldwyn. What makes the “King Richard” ensemble bid interesting, though, is that none of Smith’s Best Actor competitors were able to find love in ensemble. The other four contenders — Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”), Andrew Garfield (“tick, tick… BOOM!”) and Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”) —  all head up casts of talented actors that easily could have been honored in Best Ensemble.

SEE: How often does the film with the largest ensemble win?

None of this means that Smith is a lock to win Best Actor, of course. Ellis not landing an expected Supporting Actress nomination may be a sign that “King Richard” doesn’t have across-the-board support in the way that some were predicting. But the ensemble bid is a huge get that cements Smith as a frontrunner, assuming the recent SAG trend is indeed as powerful as it seems.

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