With just under a month to go, we’ve finally turned the corner of the Great Oscar Relay of 2021 as we enter the final stretch. The Producers Guild of America have announced, awarding Nomadland. Next up is the Screen Actors Guild, and while the male acting categories feel pretty sewn up, the female actor categories are a bit of mystery but one that will likely pave the winners’ roads to Oscar success.
SAG Awards presenters will include Cynthia Erivo, Jimmy Fallon, Henry Golding, Ethan Hawke, Helen Mirren, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Lily Collins, Daveed Diggs and Sterling K. Brown.
The 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards will air April 4 at 6pm PT/9pm ET on TNT and TBS as a pre-taped, one-hour ceremony, covering 13 awards for film and television plus the In Memoriam (the Globes opted out of one again this year) and the traditional ‘I Am An Actor’ segments, which will be produced with a two-person crews will be sent to performers’ homes or recorded via their own computers and edited into the show. One major element missing will be the Lifetime Achievement Award, which will not be given out this year. It’s also forgoing a host or even a set.
Here are my Screen Actors Guild predictions for motion picture.
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
- Da 5 Bloods
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- One Night in Miami
- The Trial of the Chicago 7
In the 27 years of the Screen Actors Guild only one time ever has the cast of a film won this award without that film being Best Picture nominated at the Oscars. That was The Birdcage, way back in 1996, only the second year of this category and the third of the SAG awards themselves. If that stat prevails, and a certain amount of logic says it will, this is a race between two very different films with two very different casts: Minari and The Trial of the Chicago 7. While there may be an outside shot for Da 5 Bloods to swoop in after its brutal Oscar snubs, or either Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom or One Night in Miami, both Oscar contenders in other categories, they’re all long shots. For Trial, it’s a film that never built on its momentum and ultimately stumbled a bit when Oscar nominations were announced, and no other supporting player was able to coalesce any steam to sit beside Sacha Baron Cohen the way we’ve seen happen now three times in the last four years. It’s far from out and it’s very large cast could be more than enough to push it over. On the other side, Minari bounced back from its Golden Globe and BAFTA deficiencies to score top noms with Oscar, including directing and two acting nods (the same ones as here). It’s the film with momentum, it’s the film with empathy and could bust open the door to awards inclusivity that was breached by Parasite‘s history-making win last year.
Predicted winner: Minari
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
- Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
- Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- Anthony Hopkins – The Father
- Gary Oldman – Mank
- Steven Yeun – Minari
In a stellar lineup of performances, it might have been a much harder choice in any other year. For Anthony Hopkins, he kicked off 2020 with best of career reviews for The Father out of Sundance. He was just coming off his first Oscar nomination in 22 years (supporting actor for The Two Popes) and his path seemed clear. Cut to late summer 2020 when buzz for Chadwick Boseman’s great performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was just starting to percolate and then his sudden and shocking passing from colon cancer at age 42. A new narrative was born and one that hasn’t let go and is buoyed by his raved performance, which earned him Best Actor at LAFCA among his 17 critic wins. This is Hopkins’ 7th SAG nomination, he’s never won. SAG sometimes likes to reward older actors that either never got their shot at the height of their career but this was the same argument that was used to say that he might win the Golden Globe, where he had been nominated eight times without a win. Boseman, with a history-making four nominations this year in the film categories alone, beat him at the Globes, and he will beat him here.
Predicted winner: Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
- Amy Adams – Hillbilly Elegy
- Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
- Frances McDormand – Nomadland
- Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
SAG went 4/5 with Oscar here, with Amy Adams out and Golden Globe winner Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) in. Trouble for Day is the only places she was nominated were the Globes and Critics Choice, thanks to them having six slots. BAFTA, which is so far out of its normal mode this year, only went 2/5 (McDormand and Kirby). Day’s Globe win was a shock (especially to Day herself) as Carey Mulligan was the favorite, even as her film was moved from comedy to drama. Viola Davis, a former frontrunner here and a 5-time SAG winner, has triumphed in this category before with The Help, beating Meryl Streep, who returned the favor at the Oscars. She is the only nominee here who’s film is also up for the cast award. While being attached to a Best Picture Oscar nominee (or SAG Cast, for that matter) isn’t always crucial here, I do think in this case it is a bit only because I believe the race to be between Frances McDormand and Carey Mulligan. McDormand became the first woman in SAG history to win two lead actress awards in the film categories, for the same two films she won her Oscars (1996’s Fargo and 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). That feat was almost immediately followed up by Renée Zellweger two years later. Making history once again, and so soon, would be wild but clearly not out of the realm of possibility. Which is why this is both Carey Mulligan’s to lose but also her last stand. As she’s not BAFTA nominated, she’d got to win this to find herself ahead in the Oscar race. I think she’ll do it but it’s going to be closer than people think.
Predicted winner: Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
- Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
- Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods
- Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah
- Jared Leto – The Little Things
- Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami
Like in lead actor, the absolute force with which late-breaker Daniel Kaluuya has come to this race with is undeniable. Although Sound of Metal‘s Paul Raci (not nominated here) had been the overwhelming critics’ favorite all season long, once Kaluuya officially entered the race he closed that gap in a matter of weeks, won the Globe and Critics Choice and is now primed to run the table with SAG and then BAFTA just one week later. Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) had an outside chance before Kaluuya came in like a thunderstorm and even brought along hurricane LaKeith Stanfield to the Oscars in this very category.
Predicted winner: Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
- Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
- Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy
- Olivia Colman – The Father
- Youn Yuh-jung – Minari
- Helena Zengel – News of the World
Anyone who reads me knows that I held off on the likelihood of Maria Bakalova even getting an Oscar nomination for far too long and only relented in the weeks before nominations. Bad predicting, Erik! When she was set for lead at the Golden Globes most of us (ok, all of us) thought it was going to be the easiest win of the night, especially with Mulligan moved over to drama. Then Rosamund Pike (I Care A Lot) beat her and shocked everyone and the eventual supporting actress winner, Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian) in another shock, wasn’t even Oscar-nominated. Bakalova picked up the Critics Choice and is the only nominee to hit all four main precursors (GG/SAG/BFCA/BAFTA). Her main competition here is Youn Yuh-jung, who missed the Globe but landed BAFTA and Oscar noms in a much stronger film both here and there. SAG and Oscar’s longtime negligence in nominating Asian actors may finally have turned a corner but is it enough to win? It could be, but there’s not much of a precedent for a Youn win (which is why she can create her own) or for Bakalova, for that matter. These are two of the most unlikely nominees in ages and they both stand a fantastic chance with legendary competition like Olivia Colman and Glenn Close right by their side (sorry, Helena Zengel). Is there some crazy scenario in which Colman or Close shock everyone and take this? Colman could, after Close bested her at SAG two years ago, but it feels so unlikely for either of them. I know this, whoever wins here is winning the Oscar as all but one woman has for the last 11 years.
Predicted winner: Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
- Da 5 Bloods
- News of the World
- The Trial of the Chicago 7
- Wonder Woman 1984
A weird category filled with stranger snubs than the acting categories. Where’s Tenet? Why is Trial here? The first Wonder Woman took this over Oscar nominee Dunkirk in 2017 and it could triumph again. This isn’t a category that has any discernible pattern of any kind: genre, box office, actors – it doesn’t matter. War films have won and lost. Marvel has won and lost, DC too. I’m going to lean into Mulan for having the ‘most’ stunts but I wouldn’t be surprised to see WW repeat or Da 5 Bloods find its one win.
Predicted winner: Mulan