On this coming Sunday, January 29th, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards will be held, where the guild will be handing out hardware for Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Ensemble. The SAG Awards are typically a great predictor of who will walk away with an Oscar at the Academy Awards, as the SAG and Oscar winners have matched up in each of the primary four categories (Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress) each of the last two years, and they almost entirely matched up in 2009, except that Kate Winslet won at the SAGs for Supporting and at the Oscars for Best Actress, which threw a wrench into things a bit.
If you want to know who will go home with an Academy Award on Oscar night, pay attention to the outcome of the SAGs on Sunday night. After that, we will know if it’s Clooney or Dujardin, Davis or Streep (or Williams), Plummer or Nolte, Spencer or Chastain. I say those last two with a grain of salt, as I think it’s almost a sure bet that Christopher Plummer wins Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners (go watch it if you haven’t), and it’s equally likely that Octavia Spencer wins Supporting Actress for her role in The Help.
George Clooney has been the frontrunner of the Best Actor race since September, but Jean Dujardin has picked up steam lately, with a win at the Golden Globes for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for his role in this year’s Best Picture favorite, The Artist. Clooney won at the Critics Choice Awards for his role in The Descendants, so a win at the SAGs would make him a near-lock to win the Oscar come February 26.
The Best Actress field is probably the one that is the most wide open, however, with a three-way race between Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Viola Davis (The Help), and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn). Streep and Williams took home the awards in their respective categories (Drama and Comedy/Musical) at the Golden Globes, but Viola Davis is the one who left with the trophy at the Critics Choice Awards. The Golden Globes generally aren’t the most telling sign of an Oscar win, while the Critics Choice Awards typically are pretty good; a win at the SAGs would seemingly solidify Davis’s Oscar win, but if Streep or Williams take home the SAG trophy, this race will be pretty much up in the air.
When it comes to Supporting Actor, Christopher Plummer is the almost surefire winner at both the SAGs and the Oscars. He has won at the Critics Choice Awards and the Globes, so if he wins the SAG Award, write him in as the Oscar winner. Among other nominees is Nick Nolte, whose performance in the under-appreciated Warrior deserves a little more recognition. However, I don’t know that anyone has ever won all three of those awards and not gone on to win the Oscar. Plummer’s performance is both sublime and hearteningly real, and I think that both the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy will recognize that and hand him the trophies.
As for Supporting Actress, the field has essentially been narrowed down to Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, each for their roles in The Help. While Jessica Chastain took home many critics circle awards for her turns in multiple movies this year (The Help and The Tree of Life being the primary two), Octavia Spencer was the winner at both the Critics Choice Awards and the Golden Globes, so again, a win at the SAGs would likely mean you can check the box (or circle) for her on your Oscar predictions ballot.
The SAG Award for Best Ensemble has been somewhat indicative of the Best Picture winner in the past, and this year The Artist, Bridesmaids, The Descendants, The Help, and Midnight in Paris are the SAG’s Best Ensemble nominees, and all but Bridesmaids was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. So is Best Picture frontrunner The Artist a lock to win Best Ensemble?
I’m going to say no. And most of that can be attributed to The Help. The Help has 3 nominees at the SAG Awards, and likely two winners, so I would be willing to place a bet on The Help taking home Best Ensemble. So, could a win here give The Help a bit of an Oscar push? Perhaps. But this year is the year for The Artist, so even if The Help wins Best Ensemble at the SAGs, it won’t take home Best Picture. Best Picture looks to have The Artist written all over it.
Be sure to keep up with all of this season’s awards, where we’ll have coverage and updates on the winners and what that means for the Oscar races.