Emmanuel Alcantar

The Oscar races looked pretty set in stone before the SAG awards, but some of the upsets that occurred Jan. 29 have made the races a lot more exciting. The Screen Actors Guild Awards is often seen as indicative of what may happen at the Oscars. However, the two award shows have different methods of voting. SAG, according to their website, has two nominating committees (one for television and the other for film) that each consists of 2500 randomly selected members of the guild who decide the nominations. The entire guild can then vote.

Each of the Oscars’ branches are made up of different members of the Academy (i.e. actors, directors, cinematographers, etc.) and vote on the nominees for their respective categories, with the exception of Best Picture, where everyone can vote. The Academy consists of around 6,000 members, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Best Film Ensemble

Captain Fantastic 
Hidden Figures – Winner
Manchester by the Sea

I do not think many people saw “Hidden Figures” winning this award over “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea.” “Moonlight” had a lot of momentum going into SAG. as it took home the top prize at the Golden Globes (Best Motion Picture – Drama), with Barry Jenkins making Oscar history as the first African-American nominated for best director and adapted screenplay (alongside Tarell Alvin McCraney), and tying “Arrival” for eight Oscar nominations.

Does this mean that “Hidden Figures” could go on to win Best Picture? Not exactly. Despite the actors’ branch being the largest branch of the Academy, only 11 of the 21 SAG Best Film Ensemble winners have gone on to claim Best Picture, and “La La Land” has won more of the precursor awards (PGA, ACE, CSA) than any other film. Interestingly enough, “La La Land” will be the first film since 1995’s “Braveheart” to win best picture without a SAG nomination. To be fair, “La La Land” is not an ensemble movie and almost only focuses on Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s characters.

Best Actor

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences – Winner

Best to get the upsets out of the way. Denzel Washington’s first ever win at SAG was a surprise and yet a long time coming. SAG has a history of trying to reward past Oscar winners, and Washington was long overdue having previously lost four times. Casey Affleck was the frontrunner in the best actor category, as he had won the majority of the Critics’ groups awards, although one wonders if the sexual harassment allegations against him are slowly catching up. At first it appeared they were not, but they have been gaining traction thanks to people like actress Constance Wu, who have publicly stated on social media that Affleck should not win the award.

I would wait until BAFTA to see if Affleck’s lead is truly in jeopardy, as Washington is not even nominated. If Ryan Gosling, Viggo Mortensen, or Andrew Garfield win at BAFTA, then Washington has a clear shot of winning. However, history is not on his side. The last actor to direct himself to a best actor win at the Oscars was Roberto Benigni in 1997 for “Life is Beautiful”.

However, history also shows that 18 out of 22 SAG winners have gone on to win the corresponding Oscar, so things are looking pretty optimistic for Washington. The biggest thing Washington has helping him (with the exception of him directing “Fences”, which Academy members love) is the agenda of the Academy in a post-2016 world. If the message is inclusion, Denzel could win. Either way, this is a two-person race now.

Best Actress

Amy Adams, Arrival 
Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train 
Natalie Portman, Jackie 
Emma Stone, La La Land – Winner
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

This category made me really sad, because it reminded me that Amy Adams is not nominated for best actress despite outstanding and subtle performances in “Nocturnal Animals” and “Arrival”. Anyway, Emma Stone’s victory here cements her standing as the frontrunner to win at the Oscars. This partly stems from a lack of competition. Natalie Portman lost a lot of her momentum after her loss to Isabelle Huppert at the Globes, as they both share many critics’ awards, and Meryl Streep is almost certainly not winning for “Florence Foster Jenkins” despite a fiery Golden Globes speech.

But there has been a lot of love for “La La Land” and Stone is the beating heart of that film. She is definitely the frontrunner but look to BAFTA to make it a done deal. She does not want to be Renée Zellweger circa 2002, when she won the Golden Globe and SAG but lost BAFTA and the Oscar to Nicole Kidman.

Best Male Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight – Winner
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins 
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion

The supporting races are all locked up. Mahershala Ali was the favorite going in to SAG and he is the favorite after. There was some talk here and there about Aaron Taylor Johnson because of his Golden Globe win over Ali, but he did not even get nominated at the Oscars (the Academy went for his “Nocturnal Animals” co-star Michael Shannon) so Ali was still in good shape. 2016 proved to be a breakout year for him, as he also won an award for his work as part of the cast of Hidden Figures, as well as his television work on Netflix’s “Luke Cage” and “House of Cards.”

Best Female Supporting Actor

Viola Davis, Fences – Winner
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion 
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Viola Davis is an unstoppable force. Winning this category just keeps adding to her momentum going into the Oscars. Since 1994 (the year the SAG awards begun), 15 out of 22 Best Supporting Actress SAG winners later won at the Oscars in the same category. It also doesn’t hurt that Davis is overdue and beloved in her industry. Davis will almost certainly win the Oscar as she has also won the Golden Globe and her closest competition Michelle Williams can’t come near to competing in terms of screen time. There was also some debate as to whether or not Viola Davis should have competed for lead actress, as she won the Tony for this same role in a 2010 production.

Also, actresses who play lead but compete as supporting usually win the Oscar. Jennifer Connelly won best supporting actress for “A Beautiful Mind” in 2002 despite being a female lead.