Saturday, April 13, 2024

SAG Ballots Due Back Tomorrow: Best Ensemble Winner Could Determine Oscar


The Screen Actors Guild Awards ballots are due back by 3pm Eastern time/12noon Pacific on Friday (tomorrow). The show airs on Sunday night. Believe it or not, the SAG Awards can be the best indicators of the Oscar winners. In recent years, Best Ensemble Winners “The King’s Speech.,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “Slumdog Millionaire” went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. But at SAG, “The Hurt Locker” lost to “Inglorious Basterds,” “The Artist” lost to “The Help.”

That’s right: “The Help” and Viola Davis won at SAG last year. Then “The Artist” and Meryl Streep went on to win Oscars. Sometime in the two weeks after SAG, “The Help” lost steam.

This year, I got lucky and called the Best Ensemble nominees early on. 

They are: “Argo,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” and “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

Which of these will win SAG? “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” won’t– it’s not nominated for the Oscar and has no momentum. Too bad. But I guess the actors were all in the UK or busy and not much has gone into an effort.

There’s talk that “Argo” — based on its Golden Globe and Critics Choice wins– could do the trick. I don’t think so. You don’t think of those people together. Rather, they are each little pods working toward a goal. “Argo” might still win the Oscar just to give Ben Affleck some compensation for being snubbed in the Best Director category. But here, no. I do think the ending of “Argo” should win an award, however.

“Les Miz” has turned into the Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, and everyone else. Again, it’s different groups of characters — many ensembles working toward a whole. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, for example, are their own ensemble. So are the freedom fighters led by Eddie Redmayne. But it’s not one group all together, and that may quash it at SAG. I am still humming “One Day More” however, which is very annoying.

“Lincoln” — a strong choice, frankly. The only deterrent might be that Daniel Day Lewis is the clear leader of the show as Honest Abe. I loved all the one level down supporting players, the various representatives and senators who came and went through Tommy Lee Jones’s office, and the gang of influencers like James Spader and Jackie Earle Haley. And every time I see the film I watch Gloria Reuben and wonder what her character is thinking. I’ve made up a whole backstory for her.

“Silver Linings Playbook”— is my choice for this award, if only that director David O. Russell, following the original novel, turns the Solitano family into the equivalent of a football team. There’s some kind of great synchronicity between how that family (and their friends) operate, and how a football team — the thing with which the family is obsessed–become mutual metaphors. The family’s betting on the team, and we’re betting on the family. And then you have the whole football team idea transferring itself to the dance contest.

Stay tuned…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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