Time to predict the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which take place tomorrow night, and are finally the first award voted on by actual industry voters. Not the Hollywood Foreign Press, not the critics, but an actual voting group that can really tell us something about what a voting body with some overlap with the Academy prefers. The guild awards are where we can really see what's out in front (and finally see 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle go head to head without them having an excuse to split categories and reward one in comedy). SAG can often be the least important precursor, since the Ensemble prize doesn't necessarily translate to Best Picture, but occasionally they do use it as their Best Picture bellwether (for example, both Slumdog Millionaire and Argo won here unexpectedly, which signaled extremely heavy support for those movies in Best Picture).
Male Actor in a Leading Role
- Bruce Dern, Nebraska
- Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
- Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
- Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
- Forest Whitaker, The Butler
Since Leo DiCaprio isn't even nominated here, whoever wins this award probably keeps the race wide open going ahead, unless it's McConaughey, who will officially become the frontrunner if he takes it. And I do think he's likely to, as a popular actor who's never won before, although SAG does have a history of supporting veteran actors, so Bruce Dern can win. And I also think Ejiofor stands a good chance, as a place to reward 12 Years. But my instinct says it's McConaughey, who will then vault into first place for the Oscar as well.
Female Actor in a Leading Role
- Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
- Sandra Bullock, Gravity
- Judi Dench, Philomena
- Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
- Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Cate Blanchett has this in the bag. Amy Adams was not nominated here, so her only real competition at the Oscars hasn't come yet. Sandra Bullock has an outside chance, since SAG is such a broad, mainstream group, but yeah- this is Cate's to lose.
Male Actor in a Supporting Role
- Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
- Daniel Bruhl, Rush
- Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
- James Gandolfini, Enough Said
- Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Jared Leto, although James Gandolfini has a major chance to upset with a posthumous win. SAG being such a broad group comprised of a lot of TV actors give him that edge, actually. In fact, I think this race could be closer than some might think, since Leto is a bit of an outsider himself, and Gandolfini has won 5 SAG awards. The safe bet is Leto, but watch out for an upset here (which wouldn't mean anything for the Oscar, of course).
Female Actor in a Supporting Role
- Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
- Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
- Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
- June Squibb, Nebraska
- Oprah Winfrey, The Butler
Again, the broadness of the voting group tells me these guys will go for Jennifer Lawrence over newcomer Nyong'o, but Oprah might stand a chance here too. And it is rare to repeat at SAG (not on the TV side, but on the movie side). I'm really wavering over this one, but I think I'm going to pick Lupita and say this is where they reward 12 Years a Slave. But admittedly, this is more of a risky call
Cast in a Motion Picture
- 12 Years a Slave
- American Hustle
- August: Osage County
- Dallas Buyers Club
- Lee Daniels' The Butler
Ok, so American Hustle has won every ensemble critics prize there is, it makes sense that they'd win here. In fact, if anything else does win, that would tells us something very significant about where Best Picture's headed. For example, if 12 Years a Slave pulls this out, that means they have a LOT of support within the industry and in that case I'd think it's on its way to winning Best Picture for sure. If it's Hustle, as expected, the status quo remains the same, and the PGA award on Sunday is going to tell us who the true frontrunner is, as they have for the last five consecutive years. If it's anything else, that would just tell us that American Hustle might be weaker in the Best Picture race than we think, but 12 Years a Slave isn't as strong either. But American Hustle is the safe choice.