Benedict Cumberbatch has been the surprise runaway leader with critics’ awards this season, having amassed 16 wins including the NYFCC. His turn as the closeted cowboy Phil Burbank in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog make him an easy choice here. Cumberbatch has one previous nomination here, for The Imitation Game, and three more as a cast member of 12 Years a Slave, August: Osage County and The Imitation Game.
Will Smith has been the on paper Best Actor Oscar frontrunner and he has Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations for King Richard and will easily snag a SAG nom as well. While he only has one previous SAG nomination as a lead actor (The Pursuit of Happyness), with two Oscar nods under his belt this will be a stepping stone to his third.
Andrew Garfield has had a stellar year, the kind most actors only dream of. In September he starred as criminal televangelist Jim Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye opposite Jessica Chastain, had to keep it under wraps for months that he would be appearing in Spider-Man: No Way Home as his version of Peter Parker but most importantly had his biggest, splashiest starring role of his career in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM!, which has earned him four critics’ prizes for Best Actor. Portraying the late Jonathan Larson and showing off his singing prowess, Garfield is definitely in.
Speaking of singing, we also have Peter Dinklage in Cyrano, playing Edmond Rostand’s classic Cyrano de Bergerac but with a new spin. Dinklage is no stranger to SAG, having earned six individual nominations for his work on Game on Thrones (on top of several cast nominations for the show) and winning for its final season. But long before Game of Thrones Dinklage was a SAG nominee for film. 2003’s The Station Agent earned the actor his first two SAG nominations: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture.
Denzel Washington has a record five individual SAG nominations for a leading actor (plus two more cast noms) and finally won for 2017’s Fences. While he lost that Oscar to Casey Affleck, he was already a double Oscar winner and remains one of the most respected and awarded living male actors. His turn as the doomed Macbeth in Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth will surely bring him more glory and extend his record even further.
Leonardo DiCaprio is the most-nominated male actor at 11 (tied with Russell Crowe), five of them individual, where he is tied with Washington. He was the most-lauded performer in Adam McKay’s star-studded comet comedy Don’t Look Up and the film’s best, if probably only, chance for an individual nomination. The film should easily land a Cast nomination but can DiCaprio keep pace with Washington and nab another one here?
Last year SAG went 5/5 with Oscar and I think they could again as this top five has been my Oscar five for some time. Screen Actors Guild nominations will be announced on January 12.
Here are my Screen Actors Guild nomination predictions for Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture:
- Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
- Peter Dinklage – Cyrano
- Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM!
- Will Smith – King Richard
- Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth
Spoilers: Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos, Nicolas Cage – Pig, Clifton Collins, Jr. – Jockey, Leonardo DiCaprio – Don’t Look Up, Jude Hill – Belfast, Joaquin Phoenix – C’mon C’mon
Photo: Macall Polay/Netflix