Screen Actors Guild predictions

On Sunday night, the Screen Actors Guild will hand out their prizes, beginning the portion of phase two for the awards season where the guilds chime in. SAG is a particularly noteworthy one due to how they don’t just attempt to clear up the acting categories…they also can be a Best Picture harbinger as well. Their Best Ensemble category is basically their Best Picture, so sometimes they opt to try and crown a frontrunner there as opposed to solely focusing on the best cast of the year. This year, there’s the potential for SAG to really crown the person to beat in Best Actor, so between that and Picture, there’s plenty to look at here.

For comparison’s sake, here’s what they did last year. There was heavy and almost total crossover between SAG and Oscar, as Matthew McConaughey won both Best Actor prizes for Dallas Buyers Club, Cate Blanchett won both Best Actress prizes for Blue Jasmine, Jared Leto won both Best Supporting Actor prizes for Dallas Buyers Club, and Lupita Nyong’o won both Best Supporting Actress prizes for 12 Years a Slave. The only difference was that Best Ensemble saw American Hustle upend eventual Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. I expect something similar to happen this time around, with the acting winners lining up and perhaps the Ensemble/Picture situation not being the same.

This year, the Best Actor category is one of the most competitive for SAG. One can probably assume that Jake Gyllenhaal is out of the running for Nightcrawler, but aside from that, there’s potential for everyone else. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) and Benedict Cumberbatch (for The Imitation Game) will likely come up short, so it’s a dead heat essentially between Michael Keaton for Birdman and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. It’s almost a coin flip, but right now I think Keaton is ever so slightly in the lead. The winner here becomes our frontrunner for Oscar.

Best Actress is a slam dunk. Julianne Moore is winning this one for Still Alice, plain and simple. One can argue about if Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) or Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) is the main runner up, but they’ll be surely joining fellow nominees Jennifer Aniston (Cake) and Reese Witherspoon (Wild) in applauding as Moore hits the stage to pick up her statue, on her way to doing the same at the Academy Awards.

In Best Supporting Actor, we have almost a sure thing. J.K. Simmons losing for Whiplash would be a shock, as he’s both the big frontrunner here and at the Oscars. It’s possible that Edward Norton could be a surprise upset for Birdman, but that’s probably not in the cards. He’ll come up short, along with Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), and Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) here. It’s basically a done deal for Simmons.

Best Supporting Actress is another that’s pretty much in the books already. Anything other than a win here for Boyhood’s Patricia Arquette would be just straight up bizarre. There isn’t even a huge threat to her prize, unless you think Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game) or Emma Stone (Birdman), or Meryl Streep (Into the Woods) is somehow pulling an upset. The only thing more sure than Arquette winning is that Naomi Watts (St. Vincent) is the least likely to win.

Finally, we have Best Ensemble. This is very much a three horse race between Birdman, Boyhood, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. The Imitation Game is next in line, with The Theory of Everything bringing up the rear. It all will come down to how members of the guild want to vote. Will they make this just a Best Picture vote? If so, then Boyhood almost certainly wins. If they’re just looking to reward an ensemble, it seems to favor Birdman, though if there’s some combination of voting styles going on, it’s possible that The Grand Budapest Hotel could benefit and slip in. I could see any of the three winning, though I suspect this will wind up being Birdman vs Boyhood. If the latter wins, you can put the Oscar in the books.

Here now are my ranked predictions for the SAG awards:

Best Cast Ensemble

1. Boyhood
2. Birdman
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. The Imitation Game
5. The Theory of Everything

Best Actor

1. Michael Keaton – Birdman
2. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
3. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
4. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
5. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

Best Actress

1. Julianne Moore – Still Alice
2. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
3. Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
4. Reese Witherspoon – Wild
5. Jennifer Aniston – Cake

Best Supporting Actor

1. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
2. Edward Norton – Birdman
3. Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
4. Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
5. Robert Duvall – The Judge

Best Supporting Actress

1. Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
2. Emma Stone – Birdman
3. Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
4. Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
5. Naomi Watts – St. Vincent

Stay tuned to see who wins on Sunday night!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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