Download: Oscars 2023: Screen Actors Guild Preview
Would you believe that seven out of the last 13 Oscar winners in the Best Supporting Actress category (since 2010) were non-white actors? Out of these seven winners, five were Black, one was Hispanic/Black, and one was Asian (Korean). Only one Black actress had won Supporting Actress in the prior nine years (between 2000-2009). That is a significant leap forward for the Academy, something they will never get credit for. If you went on Twitter right now, all you would see is people criticizing Oscar voters as “racists” because Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler were left off the Best Actress list. As disappointing as that was, to overlook the dramatic changes that have taken place is to render their efforts moot.
I bring this up because this topic is still driving the industry on both sides. The industry itself is paranoid and fearful of their reputations. The audience is starting to tune it all out, because they feel that the Oscars have become an insular reflecting pool of narcissism and “wokeness.” Yes, everyone’s favorite word, but it is still the only word we have to describe what “this” thing that everyone can see but no one can name.
I believe this is unfair to talented actors because the only thing people talk about are the quotas and their pet grievances, whether it’s racism or sexism or whatever. There isn’t enough left of either the awards industry or the film industry to continue to put pressure on them. There has to be a compromise at some point.
I went back through the acting charts going back to the year 2000 in every category. What I have found is that, over time, with more people covering the race, the shifting of the date up a month, and the way the industry has changed has resulted in a lack of diversity of contenders across the board. What I mean by that is they have gradually evolved to a kind of mass formation so that if certain names hit all of the precursors, they’re expected to get into the Oscars.
But it’s kind of amazing that there was a time, way back when, when actors would just suddenly appear out of nowhere and get a nomination. Look at, for instance, Marcia Gay Harden the year she won. She wasn’t on any list. She just showed up and won:
That year, the idea was that Kate Hudson was going to win for Almost Famous, until it wasn’t. For a variety of reasons, the names were tossed around, but eventually people started watching Pollock and they saw that Harden’s role was really more of a leading role. There was also a narrative that formed throughout award season (not unlike Andrea Riseborough’s) in that the idea was people weren’t watching Pollock. As you can see from her acceptance speech, she brings it up — how hard it was to get the movie in front of voters:
Then again, there’s also the chance that Kate Hudson and Judi Dench split the vote, handing the win to Marcia Gay Harden. How do we know it was a split vote? Because there wasn’t a decided-upon consensus heading in. There was a different winner with each of the main precursors. Harden had a strong contingent behind her.
Some years are more unpredictable in various categories. Where Supporting Actress is concerned, it’s fairly closely locked with SAG, but for an odd year here or there. This year, we have one winner for the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice, Angela Bassett for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. But then we have a BAFTA win for Kerry Condon for The Banshees of Inisherin. We may have the same dynamic at play, more or less, as we had in 2020 when Chadwick Boseman was expected to win — he won both the Globe and Critics Choice, and SAG, but lost at BAFTA to Anthony Hopkins, and then lost the Oscar.
And so it goes here, in the Best Supporting Actress race. Bassett would be winning for her impressive body of work more so than the performance itself. Compare that to Kerry Condon, who really does have a leading role in a strong Best Picture contender, which is nominated in three acting categories. It doesn’t seem likely to me that all of those nominees will go home empty-handed. And that brings us back to the question of race and racism, and why people would be upset if Condon did win, and/or whether Bassett “deserves” to win over Condon.
All of these factors combined make the Best Supporting Actress category hard to predict.
For Best Supporting Actor, it’s less complicated. Ke Huy Quan is in a strong Best Picture contender, which also has multiple acting nominations. That makes it much harder to see in any way as weak, even if Barry Keoghan won at BAFTA. What that told me is that the BAFTA voters really did not like Everything Everywhere at all. That kind of follows the trajectory of Birdman, which only won Cinematography back in 2014, but the season was much shorter. Back then, the Oscars would be held right now, instead of the lag time we’re getting. Still, I think this one is less difficult to predict.
Best Actress is also unpredictable because there are two strong performances in two strong Best Picture contenders competing against each other. Cate Blanchett would be winning her third Oscar, where Michelle Yeoh would not just winning her first, but winning her first with her first nomination ever. But it is wise to look at the vote splitting scenario where Andrea Riseborough is concerned. All of those who voted to push her through are likely going to double down on their votes, plus others who are angry and resentful that people are accusing these voters of being “racists.” And then add in those who actually think she did the best job, not to mention anyone attached to Alison Janney or Marc Maron or anyone else on the movie, and you have a perfect storm for a potential upset.
On the other hand, either Blanchett or Yeoh could benefit from Riseborough’s large share of votes too. We just don’t know in which direction it will fall. Remember, Riseborough isn’t up against them anywhere except the Spirit Awards. So we don’t know what people are going to do there.
Looking back through my charts, however, Cate Blanchett has Globes, Critics Choice, and BAFTA. That locks her in to frontrunner status even without the SAG. But if she wins there, I’d say she’s unbeatable.
Best Actor seems to me like Austin Butler’s to lose UNLESS Brendan Fraser wins the SAG. Unlike Blanchett, he only has Globes and BAFTA. Just Globes/BAFTA is a fairly solid stat. By contrast, there isn’t a stat with winning just the Critics Choice, losing Globe and BAFTA, and then winning the Oscar. But you never know. Every year is different. Still, whoever wins the SAG very likely has a solid shot at winning the Oscar regardless of the precedent, I’d say. Austin Butler is in a Best Picture contender, which gives him the advantage.
As far as SAG ensemble goes, there is no rhyme or reason in figuring that one out. The only thing that seems apparent from the last few years is the “good people doing good things” impulse that leads to “Ye Aulde Standing Ovation.” Our very own Jalal Haddad predicted many months ago that the “standing ovation” movie was Everything Everywhere All At Once. It’s hard to argue with that. They rise to their feet when they see something they’ve never seen before, and all of those actors taking the stage would be quite something.
And yes, some of that is the intersectional nature of Everything Everywhere itself. But it’s also everything they had to do throughout the movie that challenged them in a variety of ways. They’re kind of like Cirque de Soleil performers. Michelle Yeoh, of course, is a pro when it comes to martial art performances. So that is probably your frontrunner. The only movie I could see giving it some heat is The Banshees of Inisherin. But I sort of think that movie would be more appealing to just SAG voters instead of SAG-AFTRA. With AFTRA folded in, they’ve become a little more like Film Twitter and Rotten Tomatoes than ACTOR actors.
Winning SAG ensemble and then Best Picture hasn’t happened often in the era of the expanded ballot, especially in the post-AFTRA union.
2010 — The King’s Speech (DGA/PGA)
2012 — Argo (DGA/PGA)
2014 — Birdman (DGA/PGA)
2019 — Parasite
2020 — CODA (PGA)
That’s it. We don’t yet know we’re in a total blowout season. The BAFTA snub of EEAAO was peculiar. If the PGA goes that way, though, and SAG — stick a fork in it.
Here are the charts. I turned them into one big image this time so that the post is easier to read.
Best Actress [JPG] [PDF]
Best Actor [JPG] [PDF]
Best Supporting Actor [JPG] [PDF]
Best Supporting Actress [JPG] [PDF]
Best Picture [JPG] [PDF]
Thanks to Marshall Flores for helping me make them sort of readable.