Everywhere you look it’s actors actors actors. All of the Best Picture frontrunners are full of outstanding actors. It is the year of the ensemble and the ensembles are everywhere. What must then we do? How best to predict what the Screen Actors Guild will do? What will the actors think? What will the actors LIKE best? And why? What will rise to the top of the pile with SAG?
One thing to remember is how much SAG has done to take its place at the forefront of pushing contenders with predominantly black or non-white casts through to the Oscars. In the era of the expanded ballot, all of these casts were nominated:
2009 – Precious
2011 – The Help*
2013 – 12 Years a Slave+, The Butler
2015 – Beasts of No Nation, Straight Outta Compton
2016 – Hidden Figures, Fences, Moonlight
2017 – The Big Sick, Get Out, Mudbound
2018 – Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Crazy Rich Asians
This trend seemed to intensify once the two groups merged to became SAG/AFTRA or perhaps that was just due to there being more inclusion overall in the awards race, more filmmakers of color, more films being made with casts of color. Either way, gone appear to be the days when it was All White All The Time.
If I had to name the top-tier choices for SAG Ensemble right now, my best guess would look something like this:
These feel strong:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, Margot Robbie, Margaret Qually, Timothy Olyphant
Dolemite Is My Name – Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Snoop Dogg, Chris Rock
The Irishman – Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale.
Marriage Story – Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Merritt Wever, Wallace Shawn, Julie Hagerty
Bombshell – Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Allison Janney, Kate McKinnon, Mark Duplass
Parasite – Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Hye-jin Jang, So-dam Park.
Jojo Rabbit – Roman Griffin Davis, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johnasson, Tomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson
1917-Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dean-Charles Chapman, Richard Madden, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, George MacKay
Ford v Ferrari – Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Caitriona Balfe, Noah Jupe
Richard Jewell – Paul Walter Hauser, Kathy Bates, Sam Rockwell, Jon Hamm
Motherless Brooklyn – Edward Norton, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha Raw, Willem Dafoe, Cherry Jones
Waves – Sterling K. Brown, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Taylor Russell, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Lucas Hedges.
Little Women – Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet
Knives Out – Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Don Johnson, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon
Hustlers – Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Cardi B, Kiki Palmer
(Yes I know that’s three for Netflix, yes I know it’s a long shot)
Here is what I know about SAG – it’s not going to be All White All The Time. My pundit pals believe only THREE Netflix movies will get in and they’re all three of the WHITE casts and not the one with the black cast will get in. I’m not so sure about that. SAG is not as white-centric as the bloggers and critics tend to be. Put it this way – if in 2019 all five of the ensemble choices are white casts? Well, best be putting on that shitstorm raincoat because it’s going to be messy out there, and rightfully so. We’re long past the era of white dominance at the SAGs for sure, and probably getting there with the Oscars.
For SAG and Oscar it’s going to be a bloodbath in the Best Actor category. There are way too many contenders to choose from and how do you even choose? I always just start with what I think I know for sure but again, anything can happen with a randomly selected group of voters.
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Robert De Niro, The Irishman
Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name
Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
But also, impossibly: Adam Driver, Marriage Story; Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell; Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems; Edward Norton, Motherless Brooklyn; Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes, not to mention Matt Damon and Christian Bale from Ford v Ferrari.
It’s NUTS, the Best Actor race. NUTS.
Best Actress is a little bit easier, and that looks like:
Renee Zellweger, Judy
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Then we have Alfre Woodard, Clemency; Cynthia Erivo, Harriet; Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen & Slim; Awkwafina, The Farewell; Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell.
Brad Pitt – Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Joe Pesci – The Irishman
Tom Hanks, Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name
Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari
Then we have: Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy; Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse; John Lithgow, Bombshell; Al Pacino, The Irishman; Sam Rockwell, Jojo Rabbit; Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes; Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy; Alan Alda, Marriage Story; Zack Gottsagen, The Peanut Butter Falcon; Sterling K. Brown, Waves; Tim Robbins, Dark Waters.
Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Da’vine Joy Randolph, Dolemite is My Name
Margot Robbie, Bombshell
Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
But also: Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit; Florence Pugh, Little Women; Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters; Shuzhen Zhao,The Farewell; Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit; Taylor Russell, Waves; Nicole Kidman, Bombshell; Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Motherless Brooklyn.
While this piece is only supposed to be focused on the acting categories, here are a few more bonus predictions:
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite
Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit
Sam Mendes, 1917
But also: Todd Phillips, Joker; James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari; Clint Eastwood,Richard Jewell; Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story;, Craig Brewer, Dolemite Is My Name; Jay Roach, Bombshell; Greta Gerwig, Little Women: Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim; Trey Edward Shults, Waves; Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes; Marielle Heller, Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; Jordan Peele, Us.