Let’s face it: fewer people, excluding the actors themselves, actually care about the Screen Actors Guild awards. With it having less flash and fanfare, some casual award-show fans may not even know what the SAG is. It’s not even as long running as its esteemed cousins, the Emmy Awards, the Oscars and, yes, even the Golden Globes. But the SAG awards are an inexplicable game-changer on the long road to Academy Awards.
Broadcast first in 1995, actors and actresses vie for statues of a naked man holding comedy and tragedy masks, affectionately titled “The Actor,” which are awarded by two committees — one for film and one for television. While the Oscars and the Emmys are considered the crème de la crème of film and television respectively, a SAG award is a uniquely meaningful accomplishment for an actor, because randomly selected members of the actor’s union award it to them. Strictly performers are honored with an “Actor,” the epitome of acknowledgement among an actor’s peers, and this provides many the opportunities to win accolades for roles in otherwise underappreciated works.
However, the SAG awards aren’t just a pat on a performer’s back from their friends and esteemed colleagues. This important award show not only follows some of the trends from earlier shows, but it sets the stage for the Oscar front-runners. It has consistently been a huge indicator as to who will take home Academy Awards, but like the Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards have been known to throw curve balls.
If it follows history, the last major award-show honoring both film and television this season will prove to be generally tame with few surprises, gearing us up for what could be an uncharacteristically surprising Oscars night.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Carol Burnett
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Nominees: Bryan Cranston (Trumbo); Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant); Johnny Depp (Black Mass); Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs); Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
There’s no question whether Leonardo DiCaprio’s competitors deserve their nominations (it’s interesting to note Matt Damon’s absence). But in all honesty, this “Actor” should go to no one else but the former Mr. Gatsby himself. His visceral performance in The Revenant is just the kind of role this award show loves to honor. DiCaprio has been nominated nine times and has yet to win a SAG for acting. We think this is finally his year — in more ways than one.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Carol); Brie Larson (Room); Helen Mirren (Trumbo); Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn); Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back)
Should Win: Brie Larson
Larson is up against some stiff competition, particularly Blanchett, who has won before, and Ronan, whose Irish immigrant in the film Brooklyn won over critics. But after winning a Golden Globe for her performance in Room, the emotionally evocative role has garnered her much praise and recognition.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominees: Christian Bale (The Big Short); Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation); Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies); Michael Shannon (99 Homes); Jacob Tremblay (Room)
Should Win: Idris Elba
It’s a particularly tough category since none of these actors won a Golden Globe this year, which makes this award a virtual coin toss. While Rylance’s spy role is nuanced and Christian Bale is, well, fantastic as ever, turning an unlikable person into a likable character, Elba truly deserves some accolades for his role in Beasts of No Nation. The fact that he has continually been nominated for this role despite the limited reach of his Netflix film shows what impact he has had. But knowing Hollywood, either Bale or Rylance will probably take home this “Actor.”
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominees: Rooney Mara (Carol); Rachel McAdams (Spotlight); Helen Mirren (Trumbo); Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl); Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Should Win: Rachel McAdams
Winslet may have won a Globe for her role in Steve Jobs, but the paltry film is hard to root for in any capacity, with Mirren in a similar position. And it seems a bit unfair that Mara and Vikander are even in this category since their roles were much more that of leading-lady status. Which leaves McAdams, the sole actress in Spotlight’s male-dominated ensemble cast, who plays a journalist that manages to make all reporters seem a little more human. That feat alone should be garner her a win, as it already has among critic awards.
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominees: Beasts of No Nation; The Big Short; Spotlight; Straight Outta Compton; Trumbo
Should Win: Spotlight
Why Spotlight? It’s very simple: because without each member of the ensemble cast — Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James — this film about the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal would buckle under the sober weight of its content. Each actor gives small individual contributions to the larger whole, making the storytelling cohesive and fluid, and this approach places the emphasis not on the journalists they’re portraying, but on the victims and the terrifying nature of a cover-up that ruined many lives.
Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
Nominees: Everest; Furious 7; Jurassic World; Mad Max: Fury Road; Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
It’s extremely hard to predict which stunt guys did a better job when you have such a wide variety of choices — except, of course, if you’re Game of Thrones, and you’re nominated for best stunt ensemble in a drama TV series, in which case you’ll win every year. But the global success of Mad Max: Fury Road should be enough to nab these sorts of awards, if not others.
Follow Sara Snoddy on Twitter at @Sara_Snoddy.
To contact Lifestyles editor Tanner Dedmon email email@example.com.