Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award Predictions 2015

While a few critics groups have had their say about the best films of 2014, tomorrow the first true precursor to the Oscars is announced, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award.  SAG represents the largest voting block of the the Academy, the actors.  They have also merged in recent years with another group AFTRA, which has some actors, and radio personalities.  Not every member of SAG is an Oscar voter so there are some anomalies that change for Oscar, but they are generally a good predictor of the acting nominees.

Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture

This award is their equivalent to a best picture, but many of the nominees are not nominated for the Best Picture prize.  Last year three of the five nominees went on to the Oscar Best Picture race (Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, and American Hustle).  The other two films Lee Daniel's The Butler (no Oscar nominations) and August: Osage County (2 Oscar nominations) did not make the cut for Best Picture.

Typically 3 to 4 of the nominees make it to Best Picture, Dallas Buyers Club showing up here last year was a surprise, but it showed the strength and love for this film.  There are also years where only one film gets a Best Picture nomination, 2007 and No Country for Old Men.  What about this year?

Birdman is the first film that comes to mind, its a great ensemble full of impressive names, and is a movie about acting.  Boyhood is the critical darling of the season.  Into the Woods has the big names, which this show loves, and its a musical.  The Imitation Game has The Weinstein Co., but are we over estimating at this point? Probably not.  I would say that those four are locks, and then there are three films fighting it out for the fifth spot, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Foxcatcher, and Selma.

Oddly enough no Wes Anderson film has ever gotten a SAG nomination, this year may be different.  Foxcatcher has mixture of three like able "leads" Ruffalo, Carell, and Tatum who span films and television, and their film has been cited for ensemble work throughout most of the early awards season. Selma has a mixture of character actors who are well known, and the powerful message, but has it gained enough buzz to cross voters radar?  I think at the end of the day Selma makes the most sense of these three, but that could be idealism speaking.

My Predictions:
The Imitation Game 
Into the Woods 

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

This category tends to match 4 out of 5 Oscar nominees, or there is a perfect match.  I think these odds are typically higher because the lack of female driven films.

Last year SAG went for the female driven Saving Mr. Banks, while the Academy went for Amy Adams who tagged along with the boys.  The year before Marion Cotillard got a SAG nomination for Rust and Bone, but her spot at the Oscars went to Emanuelle Riva (Amour had a ton of love).  

This year's race has a very small pool of contenders, Julianne Moore for Still Alice is the front runner.  Reese Witherspoon is also probably a safe bet for Wild.  Rosamund Pike still has a strong chance for Gone Girl.  The Theory of Everything could sneak into ensemble like Dallas Buyers Club, so Felicity Jones is a good bet too.  Who gets the fifth spot?  Amy Adams for Big Eyes, Hillary Swank for The Homesman or Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night. Adams is well liked but that film seemed to sink.  I am torn between Adams and Swank. Flip of the coin it is!

My Predictions
Amy Adams-Big Eyes 
Felicity Jones-The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore-Still Alice
Rosamund Pike-Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon-Wild

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

It's rare for Lead Actor to line-up, much like lead actress its typically a match of 4 out of 5, but in these incredibly competitive years Best Actor years, it tends to be more like 3 out of 5.  Last year Tom Hanks and Forrest Whitaker made the cut at SAG, while Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christian Bale were Oscar nominees.

At the moment there are several strong contenders, some of whom could come out of nowhere, but my money is on the five men I have predicted all along, so I am going to stick with my gut plain and simple, although Timothy Spall is a spoiler.  Carell is the most vulnerable for Oscar.

My Predictions
Steve Carell-Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch-The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton-Birdman
David Oyelowo-Selma
Eddie Redmayne-The Theory of Everything

Best Performance by a Female Actress in a Supporting Role 

Again on average this award usually contains 4 out of the five Oscar nominees.  Last year it was Oprah who missed out on an Oscar nomination, which seemed like a sure fire nomination for the the film. I will say this category has been more on point than the lead category the last few years, typically matching five for five, but there are a few off years that bring down the average.

Look for front runner Patircia Arquette to be nominee, and Keira Knightly will ride the coat tails of The Imitation Game.  Meryl Streep will snag her eleventh nomination (including Into the Woods ensemble).  I have a feeling Emma Stone will show up here, but not at Oscar, just a hunch.  I have Jessica Chastain predicted for A Most Violent Year, and I think she may get in on name and buzz alone, the same way J-Law was the only acting nominee for American Hustle last year.  Watch out for Laura Dern from Wild and Carmen Ejogo from Selma.  I think if Selma is liked Ejogo has a great shot at replacing one of these five women.

My Predictions
Patricia Arquette-Boyhood
Jessica Chastain-A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightly-The Imitation Game
Emma Stone-Birdman
Meryl Streep-Into the Woods

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

With the change in the awards timeline, this award used to be more spot on, but last year each category missed 1 or 2 key players in the Oscar race.  The same could happen this year.  Last year James Gandolfini was nominated for Enough Said, this award show does a lot of posthumous nominations, and Daniel Bruhl for Rush.  They were replaced with Jonah Hill and Bradley Cooper.  The trend here is that American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street got out of the gate late, so many people had not seen them, this could impact these nominees greatly.

I have four solid nominees that I am sticking with, the last spot is going to be earned by either Robert Duvall in The Judge or Tom Wilkinson for Selma, both well liked and respected men.  Wilkinson has more nominations, with 8, four of the 8 are as part of the ensemble. While Duvall has 6, only one is for an ensemble, and he won this award for A Civil Action.  Name and win, does it for me.

My Predictions
Robert Duvall-The Judge 
Ethan Hawke-Boyhood
Edward Norton-Birdman
Mark Ruffalo-Foxcatcher 
J.K. Simmons-Whiplash

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