The next major guild event is the SAG award boradcast, which will be take place virtually on April 4th. So far the Writers Guild and Producers Guild virtual ceremonies have been streamlined and very classy affairs. They will not and cannot be what awards shows are meant to be – big glitzy gathering to signal to the viewers at large who and what Hollywood stands for.
Whether anyone will watch the virtual SAGs is not known – maybe they will, maybe they won’t. It’s hard to say. Ratings have been steadily dropping for a while now. Some say this is because of competition with other programming. Others say it’s because Hollywood has gone all in on politics and mostly no one wants to tune in for that except the community that is heavily involved in it.
Either way, we’re not expecting a ratings bonanza.
The question then becomes how will the awards roll out? What will be the impact of the awards? There is no doubt that watching actual ceremonies and applauses and speeches helps build buzz. Without it, we have — once again to remind anyone who isn’t paying attention – social media. Twitter, Instagram. (sidenote: I’ve spent some time on TikTok of late and it turns out to be an actor’s showcase and much of the parodies done on there are awards related – so if you want to sort of catch up with the buzz in the general public TikTok is as good a place to suss that out as any. I’ve seen some very funny people on there mocking how, for instance, actors give speeches and various other things. I’m late to the party on this, I know, but what can you do. One resists the urges until one can hold off no longer.
The thing about this is that in general the SAG awards might tip votes in a certain direction, given how the win was received live and on stage. But since we don’t have a live and on stage presence and we just have a video of them receiving it without waves of applause, what do we really have?
We only have what we know so far but that might not help us in terms of figuring out these awards, which are voted on by about 150,000 SAG/AFTRA voters where popularity is everything.
Starting in 2004 (right around the time the Oscars changed their date and led to a much more rushed season) Best Actor has matched with SAG in every year except one: 2016 with Denzel Washington in Fences. He ended up losing to Casey Affleck at the Oscars for Manchester by the Sea. But here is a really great example of how the date change impacted the awards race to a a significant degree. If you go back from the year 2003 you will find more SAG winners that didn’t match with the Oscars, like Russell Crowe in a A Beautiful Mind after scandal disrupted his win. Or Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York where The Pianist gained last minute steam.
Of course, only a small handful of times has the SAG Best Actor winner not gone on to win the Oscar but it seems more locked and loaded in the post 2004 era.
We have our frontrunners — Chadwick Boseman in the performance of his career in the last year of his life starring in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which also has Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor (Boseman again) nominations. His main challengers are Anthony Hopkins for The Father and Riz Ahmen for Sound of Metal. Both are brilliant performances but how does anyone top Boseman?
With the exception of Glenn Close for The Wife, Viola Davis for The Help, Meryl Streep for Doubt, Julie Christie for Away from Her, and Jodie Foster for Nell, all of the SAG Best Actress winners have gone on to win the Oscar. For Close and Davis this was particularly painful since neither has won a Best Actress Oscar in their careers. Davis has a Supporting Actress Oscar for Fences and Glenn Close has a shot this year in Supporting.
Carey Mulligan stars in one of the most popular films in the race, Promising Young Woman. The film has just the one nomination at SAG. Her main competition is Andra Day who plays Billie Holiday but does not have a SAG or a BAFTA nomination. Day beat Mulligan at the Golden Globes. Some other person will win at BAFTA because neither of them are there. If anyone other than Mulligan wins at the SAG, which is unlikely, that would seem to tip votes closer to Day’s favor. Viola Davis could win at SAG and then win at Oscar too. The Best Actress race feels wide open even if the buzz and vibe is on Mulligan.
Best Supporting Actor
The SAG wins in this category are hit and miss – with the last few winners streamlining into the Oscars. The one key thing to note is that Idris Elba won for Beasts of No Nation after being shut out at the Oscars, which indicates that they will deviate from that pattern of only choosing that which got an Oscar nomination if they see fit, which might mean Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, One Night in Miami, or Da 5 Bloods could pick up a win in ensemble.
Best Supporting Actor seems to be Daniel Kaluuya’s to lose for his portrayal of Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, which has picked up momentum in these final weeks. Sacha Baron Cohen is part of Chicago 7’s ensemble, as is Leslie Odom, Jr. for One Night in Miami, and both have SAG ensemble nominations. That may or may not mean anything. Kaluuya, at the moment, feels like the frontrunner. There is enough lag time between now and Oscar voting where theoretically buzz could shift but there is no reason to believe that is how it will go for now.
Best Supporting Actress
The SAG supporting actress category is hit and miss with the Oscars. It’s important to remember just how significant it is to appear on stage for people to see a contender win that inspires how they might vote. But without that, we really just have the performances themselves, the movies themselves, and how likable the actor is.
I think any actress could win here – Maria Bakalova is really a lead put in the supporting category, which is always a threat. But she is likable and especially likable in the performance. She seems like an incredibly strong bet and is only one of two BAFTA nominees, along with Youn Juh-Jung for Minari.
It does sort of seem like it’s a three-way race between veteran Glenn Close, Bakalova and Juh-Jung. Minari is the only one with a SAG ensemble nomination so that might be the tip-off, but it might not be. This win is wide open.
The ensemble cast award used to be a lot more predictive of Best Picture than it’s been lately, but it is still a good thing to have. If you go by the kinds of films that usually win this category, you would have to hand it over to The Trial of the Chicago 7, which seems to have ensemble cast written all over it. But times have changed, and especially this year. Remember the ensemble nomination last year for The Irishman? Once Upon a Time in Hollywood? The award went to Parasite instead. I think some of that was due to voters not wanting to hand out all of their awards to white actors (it has to be said and ditto at the Oscars) but a lot of it is just how much they loved that movie and the characters in it, and how much support the movie got in the press specifically for its ensemble cast – and how rare it was to have a foreign language film nominated for ensemble. That seemed to be a perfect storm for Parasite, which is a great movie and will remain one of the best choices the Academy ever made.
This year, that novelty factor isn’t a consideration. But white actors winning does seem to be, judging by how the race has gone so far. And to that, the SAG might want to reward one of the all black casts in the race which have not really gotten their due, as all three did not earn Best Picture nominations. But then again, with Kaluuya and Boseman both winning in prominent categories they might want to instead make it even more broadly inclusive with Minari.
I think with a voting body of 150,000 they are just going to pick the movie they like best. The problem is we don’t yet know what that movie is. Historically, it would go to a Best Picture nominee – which only leaves Chicago 7 and Minari in the running. They have broken with tradition, of course, with Idris Elba and Emily Blunt who won for A Quiet Place and way back when the Birdcage won ensemble without a Best Picture nomination. But it’s rare.
The general consensus on Gold Derby among the pundits is the following:
The Trial of the Chicago 7
And that brings us to you. Here is our SAG contest. Thanks again to Marshall Flores for putting it together. Let’s see who knows best how this will go.