The Winners of the Screen Actors Guild Awards Rattle Expectations at the Oscars. And Here’s Why…

For those of you who are privy to the goings-on of awards season predictions you’ll likely already be aware that the Screen Actors Guild Awards (abbreviated as SAG’s) is a major keystone event in determining which actor may or may not snag an Academy Award at the upcoming ceremony this March. For those of you who are not aware of this open secret, allow me to briefly summarise; if you win the SAG, statistically you have a fairly high chance of winning the Oscar. In fact, the confidence behind this belief is so strong that even those working professionally within the entertainment sphere tend to treat it as a sort of gospel – influencing predictions and perceptions throughout the industry. For example, popular awards websites such as GoldDerby have ranked all SAG winners as the most likely candidates to win the Oscar. But do the SAG’s really have that much influence? Well, let’s go through each acting win one by one and have a closer look.

Best Cast in a Motion Picture: CODA

CODA snatching the win for Outstanding Performance by a Cast has caused the least disruption out of all of these categories, largely because ensemble casts are not a major indicator of any particular win at the Oscars. Not Best Director, Screenplay (original or adapted) and not even Best Picture. Why? Because in this category is fundamentally different than any of the aforementioned ones at the Oscars. Heck, not even The Power of the Dog was granted a nomination in this category, and that’s a film that has been hailed as the veritable frontrunner of this Oscar season. Could CODA win Best Picture at the Oscars? Yes. Does this award accurately predict it? No. In fact, if calculated over a 12 year period, this category has a rough 40% probability at accurately guessing Best Picture. Not reliable to say the least.

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role: Jessica Chastain

Perhaps the most juicy and contentious of all nominations, Jessica Chastain’s win in this category for Tammy Faye officially makes predicting Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Oscars anyones game. Nicole Kidman’s role in Being the Ricardos stands as Chastain’s primary adversary here, as this Australian actress has already snagged the Golden Globe. She was statistically due take home the SAG. Alas, here we are, at a sudden death of sorts. Chastain has taken the win and thrown the entire system into one big fat question mark. My thoughts? 40% chance Chastain takes the win, 40% Kidman takes it, 20% we get an upset – and if anyone will come through with an upset, you can bet your ass it’d be Olivia Coleman.

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role: Will Smith

The Oscar is his. What more can be said? Smith has swept in almost every category for his role in King Richard, and his win here makes his high chances astronomically higher. He’s won the BAFTA, the Golden Globe, and now the SAG. If Benedict Cumberbatch had any hopes of taking home the Oscar, those hopes are all but shattered now. If Smith lost here, it would be an unprecedented stroke of bad luck.

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Ariana Debose

Again, another lock. Yawn… There are two categories in this entire SAG lineup that are laughably locked in to win the Oscar; those being, Will Smith for King Richard and Ariana Debose for West Side Story. Again, her story is the same as Smith’s — Debose has absolutely CLEANED UP awards. Golden Globes, Hollywood Critics Association, BAFTA’s and now a SAG. Her Oscar win is as close to certainty as one can feasibly get.

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Troy Kotsur

Troy Kotsur in CODA has a probable chance of winning the Oscar, but unlike the previous two contenders mentioned above, he lacks a Golden Globe to truly cement his certainty as a winner of Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the Oscars. Looking at the contenders at the Oscars however, inspires great confidence that Kotsur has this in the bag. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jessie Plemons both boast powerful performances in their respective film The Power of the Dog – but lack the larger-than-life screen presence needed to make them enthusiastic candidates for the win. Kotsur has the benefit of playing a character that undoubtedly feels more fun and memorable.

To conclude, this year around, the SAG’s haven’t stirred the pot much at all. For Will Smith and Ariana Debose, it has largely changed nothing; these two actors were sweeping in almost every category anyway and winning the SAG only solidified their already solid trajectory. Thus acting more as the final nail in the coffin for nominees we already knew would snag the Oscar; with exception of course to Best Female in a Leading Role, this is the only category that the SAG’s have meaningfully stirred the pot. Chastain, Kidman, or perhaps a surprise win by Coleman? We shall see!

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