Saturday, January 18, 2014

SAG, PGA Preview

The first of the industry's top guilds to announce their winners for 2013 will be the Screen Actors Guild (broadcast live tonight) and the Producers Guild of America (tomorrow).

All eyes are on American Hustle to snatch SAG's coveted Best Ensemble award, but nothing's ever set in stone. Remember just last year that another starry David O. Russell ensemble piece, Silver Linings Playbook, was also pegged to take this category, only to be trumped by eventual Best Picture juggernaut Argo, despite it not winning any individual acting honours. So it is possible that 12 Years a Slave could still pull the same trick it did at the Globes and the Critics Choice; keeping a lower profile all night before popping up in the final envelope.

We may have to look to Best Supporting Actress as the barometer for Best Ensemble. Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong'o (who split the Globe and the Critics Choice respectively) are going head to head in the only acting race for which the Oscar still feels up for grabs. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that Nyong'o scored with the critics, who were probably sick of writing all about Lawrence last year, but with a large group such as SAG, J-Law's ubiquitous star profile might give her the advantage.

The only film I feel certain will reap multiple trophies is Dallas Buyers Club for its two central male performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, who will probably each pick up their third major wins in a week (and helping to embolden the film's chances at winning a third Oscar for Best Makeup in the process).

And yet all this speculating about the SAG Awards may indeed be pointless. The true litmus test of where the Best Picture prize is leaning lies in the PGA. By simple fact that they use the same preferential balloting system as the Academy makes a strong case for the PGA victor to triumph on Oscar night as well. And there's a good chance that Gravity -- which obviously won't win anything tonight barring some monumental upset in Best Actress -- could ultimately be the one that comes out on top. The fact that Alfonso Cuaron seems destined for a Best Director trophy makes it hard to envision something else beating it for Best Picture, but the season is far from over.

My predictions for the SAG Awards:

Best Ensemble: American Hustle
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress: Cate Blachett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Best Stunt Ensemble: Lone Survivor

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