On Wednesday morning, bright and early, the Screen Actors Guild, newly merged with AFTRA, will submit their nominations for the year. Their ballots were due yesterday, before the Golden Globe nominations were announced, and before the Critics Choice held their winners. The information they had in hand were the screeners their nominating committee received, the parties they might have been invited to, and the buzz from the film critics.
Although the SAG/AFTRA is now roughly 150,000 members, the nominating committee is just a couple thousand. They do this, presumably, to make sure their nominators get to see all of the films. A funny thing happened last year, something that’s never really happened in recent years and that was only two of the Best Picture frontrunners were named on their ensemble list. There were choices like Trumbo, and Sarah Silverman which really seemed to come from a place Oscar prognosticators were not clued in on. The same thing could happen this year, it’s worth noting.
The other thing that happened last year was that the SAG was the most diverse of all of the voting bodies. Was this because of the nominating committee? Was this because of the AFTRA merge? Either way, they had Beasts of No Nation, Straight out of Compton nominated for ensemble, and Idris Elba for Supporting Actor, all shut out at the Oscars, which led to the now famous Oscars So White hashtag. One of the reasons was that you could look at SAG’s choices, and you could look at the Producers Guild choices and at the very least you had Idris Elba and Straight out of Compton, at the very least. That made the Academy’s acting branch’s choices stand out even more as lacking in diversity.
This year, that won’t be a problem for either group, I don’t guess, given the unprecedented variety of diverse offerings. So naturally many of us expect, based on SAG’s history that they will be even more diverse than the usual. The question will be just how many get in.
Let’s get into the categories. For ensemble, I see at the moment eight possibilities – and of those eight I do not know which ones will land. But first, the three locks:
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
I’m going to go ahead and add Fences to the list and I really think it has a good chance to actually win, with some stiff competition.
Then, there is the last slot. That could be filled by one of these three, I figure, barring some major catastrophe like one of the above not getting in.
20th Century Women
Hell or High Water
Florence Foster Jenkins
And to tell you the truth, I can’t decide which one. Florence Foster Jenkins is particularly bothersome because it is simply catnip for actors and Academy members, as Kris Tapley once proclaimed. It’s hard to see how it doesn’t get in. And yet, that means Hidden Figures doesn’t get in. Or Hell or High Water or the one most are predicting, 20th Century Women. We’re in a pickle, my friends, an ensemble pickle.
In the end, at the moment, I’ll go with:
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
But I also think I could bomb out and it’s 20th century Women or Hell or High Water or even soemthing totally bizarre like Rules Don’t Apply. It all depends on the random sampling chosen for the nominating committee and who they are makes these very difficult to predict.
Moving on to Best Actor, it’s a little less crazy making and probably goes something like:
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington, Fences
They are the two locks. Then it could go a wild variety of ways. But we’re going to go with:
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Tom Hanks, Sully
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Other possibilities include: Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic, Hugh Grant could end up in lead, and of course, Ryan Gosling for La La Land. I’ll stick with the general consensus above.
Best Actress is another pickle. There are many names and only five slots. So we’ll start with our three locks:
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
That leaves us with two slots open. I think there is a good chance Taraji P. Henson could get in there, but perhaps Ruth Negga has this thing locked up. Maybe both get in. Maybe neither get in.
And then there is Amy Adams for Arrival, which seems like a lock too but one never knows. And of course, Jessica Chastain for Miss Sloane, which is entirely possible as it’s a kick-ass, showcase performance, the kind actors love – and the kind there aren’t enough of. Then there is Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins – how do they skip that? Well, it depends on who is doing the nominating. And finally, Isabelle Huppert was getting all of the attention from the critics and is beloved across the board. I can actually see her getting an Oscar nomination easier than SAG – but one never knows THIS either.
I ended up going with:
I was really torn between Taraji P. Henson and Ruth Negga and of course Isabelle Huppert, whom I will predict for an Oscar nomination. I ended up going with Negga because hers is the bigger part. It’s as simple as that. Henson and Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer really are all three leads, or all three supporting.
Supporting Actor is a crap shoot. So far, there is no solid consensus beyond Mahershala Ali in Moonlight and honestly it could go in a variety of ways. But let’s just go with:
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
For Supporting Actress, we’ll go with:
Viola Davis, Fences
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Janelle Monae OR Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
At any rate, please enter your predictions here.