Screeners. There probably isn’t an awards body, industry or otherwise, that depends on in-hand screeners for its nominations than the Screen Actors Guild. It’s why we often get random selections that don’t pan out as Oscar nominations. Since the SAG nominees are chosen but a randomly selected nomination committee of about 2100 members (from a pool of nearly 200,000) that are located all over the country, a studios ability to get early screeners out (as in, now) is vital. This sometimes means that late December releases that haven’t even been screened for any critics or awards body find themselves out of the running. You can check out the screener list available to the SAG Nom Comm right here. It changes every almost day as new screeners arrive on voters’ doorsteps but if it’s not there by the second weekend of December, you can forget it.
More than that, the top award from SAG, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, has proven year after year that without this nomination your chances for winning the Best Picture Oscar are almost zero. To this day, only 1995’s Braveheart has avoided that curse but that was also the first year of the award. Since then it’s remained one of the more solid statistics to go by and was never more evident than last season when the overwhelming BP frontrunner, La La Land, was snubbed here. We all found excuses to ignore that stat, arguing that this was the film to break it. But it didn’t. Now, it was easy afterwards to simply claim that voters felt the film was such a two-hander that it didn’t deserve a nomination but Beasts of No Nation got in with just three actors, two of them being complete unknowns. And Emma Stone was the frontrunner to win so I kind of see holes in that argument. Still, it’s a crucial get for awards season and this year is going to find at least one film get that nomination at the expense of a handful of others that are ahead of it in the Oscar race. But for many people, the Cast award is seen as a Best Picture award even if it really isn’t. It still dictates the race in a way that no other other precursor does. You don’t even have to win it, you just need to be nominated. Case in point – many pundits have pegged Dunkirk as the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner but what if it misses out here? Will they change their tune? I’m predicting that Dunkirk does not make the cut (in a very difficult year) but I don’t feel comfortable about it. I feel weird leaving Mudbound off. Netflix may not have a hold on the Oscars yet but it’s pretty good here and the film hits the streaming network today, making in-hand screeners a moot point and giving it an advantage over many other contenders. Universal has been stronger here than at the Oscars too, which puts Get Out in a good spot. If I’m going to predict multiple individual nominations for Call Me By Your Name it doesn’t make much sense to leave it off the top one. It certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented though but it’s only happened three times since the inception of the award (1995).
Another hiccup that sometimes happens with SAG is that they’re one of the few awards bodies where category placements are decided on by the studio or representative and they’re locked in. We’ve seen Benicio del Toro end up in Leading for Traffic but Supporting at the Golden Globes and the Oscars, and winning all three. Look also at Kate Winslet – she won the SAG and Golden Globe in Supporting for The Reader only to be bumped up to Lead at the Oscars and win there too.
The nominations for the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards will be revealed on December 13, 2017. Here are my predictions for Friday, November 17th (final predictions will land just before the official nomination announcement).
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Call Me By Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
In the running: Dunkirk, The Florida Project, Lady Bird, I, Tonya, Mudbound
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Timothée Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Jake Gyllenhaal – Stronger
Tom Hanks – The Post
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
In the running: James Franco – The Disaster Artist, Andrew Garfield – Breathe, Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out, James McAvoy – Split, Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post
In the running: Annette Bening – Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Jessica Chastain – Molly’s Game, Judi Dench – Victoria and Abdul, Brooklynn Prince – The Florida Project, Emma Stone – Battle of the Sexes, Kate Winslet – Wonder Wheel
Outstanding Performance by Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Armie Hammer – Call Me By Your Name
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mark Rylance – Dunkirk
Michael Stuhlbarg – Call Me By Your Name
In the running: Idris Elba – Molly’s Game, Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water, Ben Mendelsohn – Darkest Hour, Jason Mitchell – Mudbound, Michael Shannon – The Shape of Water, Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Holly Hunter – The Big Sick
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
In the running: Hong Chau – Downsizing, Tiffany Haddish – Girls Trip, Catherine Keener – Get Out, Nicole Kidman – The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Melissa Leo – Novitiate, Tatiana Maslany – Stronger
Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
The Greatest Showman
War for the Planet of the Apes
In the running: Detroit, Blade Runner 2049, Hostiles, Jumanji, Justice League