The 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards unfolds on Sunday. We have the three-peat of the Eddies on Friday, the Producers Guild on Saturday, and SAG on Sunday. Wee. It would ordinarily be, or likely be, a La La Land sweep, but it is not up for the SAG Ensemble award so another film will win on Sunday. That makes this year’s SAG Awards slightly unpredictable.
Last year the SAG went rogue and picked Idris Elba for supporting actor when the Oscars shut out Beasts of No Nation, helping to set in motion the infamous hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. There remains no good reason for the actors branch to have done this, but they did. At any rate, the SAG has always been the most diverse group of the big guild awards. Still, we have no idea what movie will win in ensemble since, truly, any of them could win – even Captain Fantastic. But more likely, it will be down to the four also nominated for Best Picture: Manchester by the Sea, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Fences.
But the real thing to watch for is Best Actor where Denzel Washington might be winning his first SAG award. Ever. That he has never won seems to give him the slight edge over the frontrunner, Casey Affleck, but I’m not sure I think that’s how it will go. For starters, do SAG voters know this about Denzel Washington? Their massive group is 150,000 strong, with many an AFTRA voter folded in. That means so and so who has a radio show up in such and such can vote. What does this mean? I have no idea but it means that all bets COULD be off.
If Denzel Washington wins, and Viola Davis wins in supporting, and Mahershala Ali wins in supporting actor – and Moonlight or Fences or Hidden Figures wins in ensemble? No joke, there will be one white winner and that will have to be in Best Actress where there are no women of color nominated.
That is going to be a huge story, the biggest, relating to that infamous hashtag – you heard it here first. Does that mean what film wins ensemble might shake up La La Land’s juggernaut status? Not sure. But if it’s Moonlight for the Eddie and the SAG? Well, that sets it up to be where Crash was when it surprised and won in 2005, although not using a preferential ballot. That’s one of the reasons that nomination is so important – it’s a big publicity get heading into Phase 2.
I think Emma Stone can’t lose for La La Land. She’ll win SAG and she’ll win the Oscar. Who is her competition? Well, Natalie Portman, for one. She won the Critics Choice in a shocker. Stone won the Golden Globe as a part of a sweep, but with 150,000 people voting? Most popular wins the day and probably no one can else can win.
As far as Ensemble goes, all five of them are excellent, which makes this a very difficult choice. Fences is a master class in acting across the board, from Denzel Washington on down. These are the best and the brightest who are bringing a great play to vivid, unforgettable life. The buzz is with Moonlight, which also had brilliant acting – all different versions of one character at different ages, plus those who have had a consequential impact in his life. Hidden Figures has a great cast of great performances with not just the three leads – Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Taraji P. Henson, but also Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst. Manchester by the Sea, which leads the SAG nominations, probably will see a win with Casey Affleck but it could also win here in Ensemble too, which would set it up to be an Oscar spoiler on a preferential ballot. Great work from Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges, but also Kyle Chandler and on it goes. Finally, Captain Fantastic has Viggo Mortensen and Frank Langella and whole bunch of talented kids.
We’ll put out our predictions on the day of the show but I’m leaning towards:
Best Actor: Denzel Washington (but my gut tells me this is Casey Affleck’s)
Best Actress: Emma Stone
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences
Ensemble: Moonlight or Fences