SAG nomination predictions: Who will make the cut?

12.10.13 4 years ago 24 Comments

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Tomorrow, the Oscar race takes a significant turn, as we move beyond the critics’ awards — though there are still plenty of those to come, of course — and into the realm of industry opinion. The Screen Actors Guilds are the first taste we get of peer voting, and more often than not, the Academy echoes their selections with only a couple of exceptions — not least because the bodies share a not-inconsiderable number of voters.

Last year, 14 of 20 SAG-nominated film performances went on to be compete for the Oscars, and that was a lower proportion than usual; three years ago, it was as many as 19.  When they disagree, it’s usually SAG’s picks that skew a little more conservative: on the whole, they’re less likely than the Academy to spring for foreign-language performances or offbeat art films. (Among the names that missed out on SAG nods last year were Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhané Wallis, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams for “The Master” and eventual Supporting Actor Oscar champ Christoph Waltz.) So a SAG omission is by no means insurmountable — though when mainstream contenders miss out, it can be cause for concern.

Who’s looking good in this year’s SAG race, then? In each of the film categories, there are a handful of surefire nominees, but none is without some wiggle room — including the group’s top award, Best Ensemble. It’s ostensibly their Best Picture equivalent, and sometimes blatantly awarded as such –remember “Slumdog Millionaire?” Still, it’s still hard to imagine one of the Oscar frontrunners, “Gravity,” scoring here, for obvious reasons.

With all that in mind, Kris, Greg and I have gathered our predictions in each category for your perusal. In no category do we entirely agree on the field, which hopefully bodes well for some surprises tomorrow. Take a look and tell us what you think…  

Best Ensemble

Greg’s picks:
“American Hustle”
“August: Osage County”
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
“Saving Mr. Banks”
“12 Years a Slave”

Guy’s picks:
“American Hustle”
“August: Osage County”
“Her”
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
“12 Years a Slave”

Kris’ picks:
“American Hustle”
“August: Osage County”
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
“Saving Mr. Banks”
“12 Years a Slave” 

All three of us agree on four of these. “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” are surefire Best Picture contenders that are also dependent on large, star-filled casts, so those are no-brainers. “August: Osage County” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” aren’t quite such formidable contenders, but it’s hard to imagine SAG ignoring such hefty, old-fashioned ensemble pieces in this category. (If they nominate the two-person cast of “Gravity,” it really is time to drop the “Best Ensemble” pretence.) For the final spot, Kris and Greg agree on the Old Hollywood comforts of “Saving Mr. Banks”; I wonder if they might skew trendier (and reward a very fine ensemble) with “Her.”

Best Actress

Greg’s picks:
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

Guy’s picks:
Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County” 

Kris’ picks:
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

Again, we’re unanimous on four nominees here: Blanchett, Bullock, Dench and Streep have featured on pretty much everyone’s prediction lists for months now, and all four are former SAG winners. Emma Thompson isn’t, but only because her Oscar glory days predate the SAGs’ existence; she’s widely deemed a safe bet, and Kris and Greg agree. But what of Amy Adams? She’s popular with the Guild (if not as popular as she is the Academy, given that she missed a nod for “The Master” last year), and we know “American Hustle” was well-received at its SAG screening. She’s the spoiler, but it’s no easy field to spoil.

Best Actor

Greg’s picks:
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Robert Redford, “All is Lost”
Forest Whitaker, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

Guy’s picks:
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Robert Redford, “All is Lost”
Forest Whitaker, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

Kris’ picks:
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Robert Redford, “All is Lost”

Another category with four agreed nominees: Dern, Ejiofor, McConayghey and Redford (the same quartet, apparently, that competed so closely in the LAFCA vote) all look solid in the race, but in a crowded category, the final spot could go a number of ways. Greg and I are both taking a punt on Forest Whitaker: not the freshest or most acclaimed contender, but the kind of actors’ actor, in the kind of popular, middle-of-the-road film, that tends to go over well with this group. The same might be said of Kris’s pick, Tom Hanks, even if the talk around “Captain Phillips” has gone a bit quiet lately. 

Best Supporting Actress

Greg’s picks:
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”
Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

Guy’s picks:
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Sarah Paulson, “12 Years a Slave”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

Kris’ picks:
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Margo Martindale, “August: Osage County”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

Slightly less consensus here: everyone agrees on Nyong’o, Lawrence and Winfrey, but from there on, we all have different ideas. Kris and I are both guessing SAG types will warm to June Squibb’s tough-old-broad act of “Nebraska,” while Greg thinks a better-known indie contender, previous winner Octavia Spencer for “Fruitvale Station,” will make the cut instead. Kris and Greg disagree on which “August: Osage County” performer will make it: the former says beloved character actor Margo Martindale, the latter says leading-lady-in-disguise Julia Roberts. For my part, I’m taking a wild guess on Sarah Paulson making it a very good morning for “12 Years a Slave”; no voting group is more sympathetic to actors with a TV profile.

Best Supporting Actor

Greg’s picks:
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Tom Hanks, “Saving Mr. Banks”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Guy’s picks:
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
Tom Hanks, “Saving Mr. Banks”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Kris’ picks:
Casey Affleck, “Out of the Furnace”
Will Forte, “Nebraska”
James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
Tom Hanks, “Saving Mr. Banks”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

And finally, here’s where things really get interesting. Beyond the assumed frontrunner status of Jared Leto, not much else has settled in this category, and his and Tom Hanks’s canny Walt Disney impersonation are the only two performances we all agree will be nominated. Beyond that, Kris and I agree that James Gandolfini will find a place here: his tender performance in “Enough Said” is worthy on its own merits, but posthumous sentiment and his popularity with SAG (he won three times for his individual work in “The Sopranos”) are also factors. Greg and I, meanwhile, agree on Bradley Cooper (who hasn’t shown up much thus far) and Michael Fassbender; Kris, however, anticipates another SAG shutout for the latter, and a nod for Casey Affleck that would be a surprise to many.

Which of us three will be proven the most savvy? And what are your picks for tomorrow’s nominations? Share your thoughts and predictions in the comments!

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