Predict the SAG winners

Posted by · 10:43 am · January 28th, 2011

This weekend completes the trio of Guild awards with the most bearing on the Best Picture race, as the Directors’ Guild of America and the Screen Actors’ Guild dish out their prizes on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Following the Producers’ Guild’s surprise coronation of “The King’s Speech” last week, the next two days could help level the race — most are favoring “The Social Network” to fight back with a DGA gong, but the SAG Awards are more of a wild card.

A couple of SAG categories, of course, barely require discussion. In the lead acting races, there’s no reason whatsoever to suspect that Colin Firth and Natalie Portman won’t continue their joint march to the Oscar podium on Sunday. (If Annette Bening were to pull off a shocker, she’d be the first two-time Best Actress winner in the 17-year history of the awards, which somehow makes it seem even less likely.)

Neither can I really see a scenario in which Christian Bale loses Best Supporting Actor, given the Guild’s clear regard for “The Fighter” (it leads all nominees with “The King’s Speech”) and the fact that his chief competitor, Geoffrey Rush, has already been honored.

Best Supporting Actress is the place to look for an upset, as four nominees (sorry, Mila Kunis) stand a chance at victory. A win for teen first-timer Hailee Steinfeld would tilt the Oscar race in her favor, but I feel that Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice champ Melissa Leo, a longtime stalwart of film and television, is still the best bet to earn her peers’ approval.

The least predictable award of the night is also the biggest. Given that SAG treat the Best Ensemble category as their own Best Picture honor, the award has, in years past, been an indicator of shifting momentum in the Academy’s top race: “Shakespeare in Love” and “Crash” both foreshadowed their Oscar night upsets in this category. On the other hand, SAG sometimes simply votes for the film with the biggest and/or toniest ensemble, regardless of the film’s position in the race: wins for “Inglourious Basterds” and “Gosford Park” had little impact on the Best Picture derby.

As far as I can see, three films have a clear shot at the award. The youth and comparative inexperience of the “Social Network” ensemble would make it an atypical winner in the category — but at the same time, counting out Jesse Eisenberg’s long-shot Best Actor bid, this is the only place where voters can acknowledge the most acclaimed and awarded film in the race. (This factor made a similarly unlikely victor of “Slumdog Millionaire” two years ago.)

Of course, if “The King’s Speech” really is muscling in the season’s new frontrunner, the film — peppered as it is with beloved thesps ranging from Firth to Derek Jacobi — could easily take the win, and is probably the safest bet right now. (It would, however, be the first film to take both the ensemble award and a lead acting gong since “Chicago” eight years ago.)

On the other hand, if voters don’t feel like exporting the award, “The Fighter”‘s well-liked, well-known assembly of stars and character actors would make for popular winners in the category. However, while my head tells me otherwise, my unreliable gut says the season’s initial favorite regains its standing here.

Will win
Best Ensemble: “The Social Network”
Best Actor: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Best Stunt Ensemble: “Inception”

Should win
Best Ensemble:
“The Fighter”
Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Best Actress: Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”

Share your own predictions and/or preferences in the comments section. Meanwhile, Tom O’Neil has gathered a wide range of pundits’ picks in both the film and television categories — check ’em out here.

[Photo: Paramount Pictures]

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56 responses so far

  • 1 1-29-2011 at 5:24 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    /3rtfu11: I don’t get what you mean by “the Hilary Swank factor.” This is SAG, not the Oscars — Swank and Bening have one each.

    Andrew: As I clearly state in my “should win” picks, I think Nicole Kidman is the best in the category — though Swank (who I usually like) aside, I think every nominee is terrific. I think this is the best performance of Bening’s career, so I’d be content with her winning.

    Danimal: If you read my piece again, you’ll see I clearly mention Bening’s previous win.

  • 2 1-29-2011 at 6:25 am

    JJ1 said...

    On merit alone, I think Portman deserves the win(s). She was incredible in a wow role.

    But Bening gave a very good performance, as well. Nuanced, funny, witty, intuitive. I bought “Nic” at every step of the way. It wouldn’t be a travesty if she won (overdue notion or not).

    And p.s. – just watched ‘Conviction’. Not wild about the movie. But Swank was very good; much better than anticipated. I could almost see why SAG populist support would come behind it (for the nom).

  • 3 1-29-2011 at 10:31 am

    Danimal said...

    Yep, guilty of commenting without carefully reading the article. You got me, Guy. As an avid reader of the site, I should know better :)

  • 4 1-29-2011 at 11:47 am

    Speaking English said...

    ***Giving it to The Fighter seems a bit like overkill when Bale and Leo are likely to win individual awards***

    SAG doesn’t work that way, and you’re obviously forgetting about “Chicago” which won two acting awards and the best ensemble in 2002.

  • 5 1-30-2011 at 2:37 pm

    matsunaga said...

    Should win
    Best Ensemble: “The King’s Speech”
    Best Actor: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
    Best Actress: Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
    Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”
    Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”

    I’ll stick with these upsets…