The nominations are set, outrage about snubs has a hashtag (#OscarsSo White), and the Golden Globes already crowned their winners. It's official, Oscar season is fully upon us and I am so psyched. Much like the World Series or the Olympics, people often don't realize that Academy Awards season is actually a long and winding road; it takes a lot of smaller awards, buzz, and other factors to even get you up on that Oscars stage thanking mom, dad, and your agents. That's why it's important to know that the SAG Awards often predict Oscar winners in the Academy Awards' acting categories. This year's Screen Actors Guild Awards air on Sunday night at 8 p.m., and I suggest you pay close attention.
Let me break it down: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is made up of 5,700 Hollywood hot shots who are involved in making movies — actors, sound editors, screenwriters, directors, cinematographers, etc. — and they usually vote for the field they're in, because that's where their expertise lies. So writers vote for writers, sound editors for sound editing, etc. But those folks also have their own guilds/unions, such as the Writers Guild of America, the American Society of Cinematographers, and the Directors Guild of America, to name a few. So these guilds give out their own awards, and since it's (almost) the same folks voting in both the Academy ballots and the guild/union awards, well, it's commonly thought to be a predictor for who will take home a little golden man at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.
The SAG Awards is just that, but for actors, and it's one of the few guild award ceremonies that's televised — everyone wants to see all the celebs and who they're wearing, right? It's also a major predictor for the Oscar acting categories — according to GoldDerby, 16 SAG Best Actor winners have gone on to win at the Oscars, including the last eight in a row. But not everyone who's in SAG (120,00 members) is in the Academy, and all Academy members vote for acting awards.
Besides, the grey SAG statue is its own award, it doesn't have to go to who Oscar wants. So let's look at a bunch of past scenarios to see when the SAGs have predicted Oscar winners and when they've gone off on their own.
When The SAG Awards Were Right
The Oscars and SAG Awards have a lot in common. They both make celebs dress fancy and they both love Meryl Streep (but come on, who doesn't?). SAG has predicted many of the recent winners, including Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club, Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave, Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln, Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, and Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables, among others.
When The SAG Awards Were Wrong
In 2003, Johnny Depp knocked it out of the park as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean and SAG took notice — they handed him the trophy for Best Actor that year. Though Depp was nominated for the Oscar, Sean Penn wound up winning for his role in Mystic River.
In 2011, SAG crowned The Help's Viola Davis as the Best Actress, but unexpectedly Streep went on to win for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The lesson there is to never count Meryl out. She can always eke out a win.
The only pain is not being nominated at all, right? Well, that happened to eventual Oscar winners Christoph Waltz (for Django Unchained) and Marcia Gay Harden (for Pollak). SAG didn't even give them a nod, though they both went on to win Oscars.
It's also important to note that the Best Ensemble awards rarely predict Best Picture, which is a producing award. So don't go by that in your Oscar Pool, folks.
When The SAG Awards Were WTF
In 2008, award season-favorite Kate Winslet won the SAG statue for Best Supporting Actress in The Reader. She probably wanted to be in that category for the film, because she also had a lead role in another contending film, Revolutionary Road. But life doesn't always go the way we want it and Winslet wound up getting nominated for an Oscar — and winning — for The Reader in the Best Lead Actress category. The same thing happened to Benicio Del Toro in 2000's Traffic. The Academy does what it feels like — and they can.
There are no ties at the Oscars, but there was a tie for the SAG statue in 1997 in the Best Supporting Actress category. Both Kim Basinger (for L.A. Confidential) and Gloria Stuart (for Titanic) took home the prize that year. A few weeks later, Basinger edged out Stuart for the Academy Award. So while it's definitely worth making note of who wins the big categories at the SAG Awards, don't be too surprised if the Oscars' winners list doesn't quite match.