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The 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards are Sunday night and if last year proved anything, we should always be ready for surprises. Chicago, the last musical to win Oscar’s Best Picture, took home three awards in 2003: Ensemble, Actress in a Leading Role (Renee Zellweger) and Actress in a Supporting Role (Catherine Zeta-Jones). La La Land can’t pull off the top award but it could find itself with two.
Last year we saw Idris Elba (Beasts of Nation) take home the Actor in a Supporting Role win and then be snubbed for an Oscar nomination. All other winners went on to win Oscars in their respective categories, including Spotlight, the winner of the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award. This year is going to be a bit different in that Oscar’s Best Picture frontrunner, La La Land, isn’t even nominated for the top award. That gives us a major win for either Captain Fantastic, Fences, Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea or Moonlight. While most people are predicting Moonlight to win (as I am) the film is the second lowest box office grosser of the bunch and this is a category that favors two things: the Best Picture frontrunner or a populist hit. Since our Best Picture frontrunner is not in the running that points to Moonlight or Manchester. As a populist hit, Hidden Figures is by far the biggest grosser of the bunch.
Let’s take a look at a bit of SAG history when it comes to Ensemble winners and box office.
10 Lowest Grossing Ensemble Winners:
1997: Full Monty – $45.9m
1998: Shakespeare in Love – $64.8m on SAG weekend in March, finished with $100m total (Best Picture winner)
2001: Gosford Park – $33m on SAG weekend in March, finished with $41m
2004: Sideways – $46.6m on SAG weekend in February, finished with $71.5m
2005: Crash – $54.5m (Best Picture winner)
2006: Little Miss Sunshine – $59m
2007: No Country For Old Men – $51.9m on SAG weekend in Jan, finished with $74m (Best Picture winner)
2008: Slumdog Millionaire – $56m on SAG weekend in Jan, finished with $141m (Best Picture winner)
2014: Birdman – $30.9m on SAG weekend in Jan, finished with $42m (Best Picture winner)
2015: Spotlight – $34.7m on SAG weekend in Jan, finished with $45m (Best Picture winner)
All 10 films were Best Picture nominees and six were Best Picture winners. As you can see by the dates, SAG Ensemble and the Best Picture Oscar are very closely tied together. In the last decade, when the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner didn’t win the SAG Ensemble it went to the populist hit: Inglourious Basterds over The Hurt Locker; The Help over The Artist; American Hustle over 12 Years a Slave. This year, four of the five nominees are in current release.
This Year’s Nominees:
Hidden Figures – $88m
Fences – $49m
Manchester By the Sea – $39m
Moonlight – $16m
Captain Fantastic – $5.8m (no longer in theaters)
I think we can easily eliminate Captain Fantastic here. It benefited from a summer release and that’s why it’s here. This isn’t the film that’s going to win without a Best Picture nomination (although Viggo Mortensen in nominated for Best Actor). That leaves Moonlight as the lowest grosser. It’s probably 2nd in the Best Picture Oscar race right now and that is heavily in its favor here. But, it’s also a cast of largely unknowns. But then, so was The Full Monty when it won against the behemoth casts of Boogie Nights, L.A. Confidential and Titanic. Moonlight feels a bit like Sideways; a critical favorite that beat the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner at SAG. Fences, with three nominations and a healthy box office, is a contender here but also feels like when Doubt was nominated (see more on that below). Manchester by the Sea is the most-nominated film with four and has the upper hand in at least one category and is still a strong force at the box office. Then there’s Hidden Figures. By weekend’s end, it will be double all other nominees in this category. It’s peaked at exactly the right time as voting for SAG ends today. It has the second-largest credited cast (nine, Captain Fantastic has 13) and is a Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) Oscar nominee. It would probably fit closest to something like Little Miss Sunshine or The Help as a winner here.
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) is the frontrunner to win Actor in a Leading Role here. But, there’s always this to think about – Denzel Washington (Fences), a two-time Oscar winner, has never won a Screen Actors Guild Award. Flashback to 2009 when Meryl Streep, a two-time Oscar winner, won her first and only individual SAG award for Doubt. This could happen for Washington as well but Streep’s year was also an exception; the eventual Oscar winner was Kate Winslet in The Reader, who was submitted (and won) in supporting at SAG that year. She was nominated in Lead against Streep for Revolutionary Road (same scenario as The Golden Globes). So while it might be interesting to entertain the idea of Washington upsetting Affleck here, it’s also important to know this stat:
Only films with 4 or more SAG nominations that were shut out:
2007: Into the Wild
2005: Brokeback Mountain
2002: The Hours
1996: The English Patient
From that list, we have the Best Picture runner-up of its year (Brokeback Mountain), a film that lost lead actress at SAG but won it at the Oscars (The Hours) and an eventual Best Picture winner (The English Patient). But, while it seems that everyone is focused on the race being between Affleck and Washington, what if Ryan Gosling pulls off a shocking win? Would it even be that shocking?
Actress in a Supporting Role feels very locked for Viola Davis (Fences). It will be her second individual win at SAG for Motion Pictures (she also has two for television). Actress in a Leading Role feels safe for Emma Stone (La La Land) but some still feel that Natalie Portman (Jackie) has a shot. It would be strange (but not unheard of) for the eventual Best Picture winner to go home empty-handed. Note: no actress has ever won Actress in a Leading Role twice since the inception of the SAG Awards.
Actor in a Supporting Role feels more open than it should. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), who absolutely dominated the critics’ awards this season, still feels like the frontrunner but his Golden Globe loss still stings a bit, especially against someone who isn’t nominated here or at the Oscars. He should still prevail. If he doesn’t, I’m not really sure who would. There is no real consensus pick. It could be Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) or newcomer Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea).
In the Stunt category, the team from Hacksaw Ridge should be able to triumph.
The 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards will be broadcast live on TNT and TBS simultaneously beginning at 5pm PST this Sunday, January 29th.
Here are my predictions for the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards for Motion Pictures:
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight (predicted winner)
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Amy Adams, Arrival
Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land (predicted winner)
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (predicted winner)
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Viola Davis, Fences (predicted winner)
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (predicted winner)
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
OUTSTANDING ACTION PERFORMANCE BY A STUNT ENSEMBLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
Captain America: Civil War
Hacksaw Ridge (predicted winner)