With one glaring exception, every Oscar winner for Supporting Actress for the last 12 years has won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture so unless you’re a Regina King, you need to get this nomination first if you have any hopes of winning.
Belfast‘s Caitríona Balfe and The Power of the Dog‘s Kirsten Dunst should be easy calls for a nomination here. While Balfe has been a total non-factor with critics’ wins, Dunst has surprised with four, tying her with Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) and Ruth Negga (Passing).
There has been much debate about the lack of an early SAG nom comm screener for West Side Story impacting that film’s chances in all categories but for this one in particular as Ariana DeBose has risen in the ranks to become one of the season’s top frontrunners and the critics’ award leader. The nominating committee did finally receive a digital screener for West Side Story this last week but voting began way back on December 9, which puts DeBose’s chances in a bit of jeopardy, especially for a group that has so consistently relied on physical DVDs in the past.
But another wrinkle there is the presence of Rita Moreno. The legendary EGOT winner nabbed her Oscar for the very role DeBose plays in the new Steven Spielberg adaptation. While Moreno plays a new character in the film (or more so a gender swapped version of an original character) and gets not only a very healthy amount of screen time, she also delivers “Somewhere,” one of the musical’s signature songs. Moreno has never been nominated for a SAG award but did receive its Life Achievement Award in 2014. The Screen Actors Guild has shown us several times in the past that they like to reward actors whose primary work existed in the pre-SAG awards era with nominations, and sometimes even wins, as both Gloria Stuart (Titanic) and Ruby Dee (American Gangster) prove. Then again, Marlee Matlin (CODA) also fits that narrative, albeit younger than who we’ve seen in the past.
Three of SAG’s greatest stalwarts also find themselves in the hunt once again. Meryl Streep (Don’t Look Up) is the most-nominated female actor of all time with 16 (but only one in supporting). Then Cate Blanchett (Don’t Look Up and Nightmare Alley) with 14 (four in supporting) and Judi Dench (Belfast) with 13 (three in supporting). Those are numbers that seem hard to deny, even when they don’t translate to Oscar nominations, as are the cases for Blanchett and Dench.
I’m also not counting out Viola Davis (The Unforgivable) who has 8 nominations (two in supporting) and is tied with Renee Zellweger for most film wins at four. She is exactly the kind of shock nom that happens but doesn’t translate to an Oscar nod so watch out for that strong possibility.
I feel most comfortable with Balfe, DeBose, Dunst and Ellis at the moment, and that’s also who are in my Oscar predictions, but it’s that notoriously difficult fifth spot to call. It could be Matlin, Ruth Negga (Passing), Ann Dowd (Mass) or any of the women mentioned above. While this category isn’t terribly connected to the SAG Cast category (it has the lowest correlation of all four individual acting categories) this year could very well go 4/5 or even 5/5.
Last year, SAG went 4/5 with Oscar with Helena Zengel in News of the World out for Amanda Seyfried in Mank. The big question is, if it’s another 4/5 year who will get in here and then miss Oscar like Jennifer Lopez, Holly Hunter, Hong Chau, Mila Kunis and so many before have?
That glaring exception from the opening? Emily Blunt winning for A Quiet Place, where eventual Oscar winner Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) was not SAG-nominated. Blunt is the only actress ever to win SAG here and not be Oscar-nominated for her role.
Here are my predictions for Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. Nominations will be announced January 12.
Female Actor in a Supporting Role
- Caitríona Balfe – Belfast
- Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
- Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
- Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard
- Rita Moreno – West Side Story
Spoilers: Cate Blanchett – Don’t Look Up or Nightmare Alley, Viola Davis – The Unforgivable, Judi Dench – Belfast, Ann Dowd – Mass, Marlee Matlin – CODA, Ruth Negga – Passing, Meryl Streep – Don’t Look Up