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SAG Awards Predictions: Sentimentality & ‘Diversity’ + Rap Music

Brie Larson Jacob Tremblay Room SAG Awards
Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in Room: 2016 SAG Awards.

2016 SAG Awards Predictions: Sentiment and ‘Diversity’

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Last-minute SAG Awards predictions, as the 2016 SAG Awards ceremony will begin in about half an hour (Jan. 30) at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles.

So far, there’s one clear winner at the telecast. That’s veteran film and (mostly) television actress Carol Burnett (The Carol Burnett Show, Annie), who will be handed the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will be handling that particular presentation.

As for the SAG Awards’ competitive motion picture categories, this year remains murkier than most even though the list of likely winners has been narrowed down in recent weeks – especially following the Golden Globes ceremony and the Oscar nominations announcement.

The ‘oddities’

The easy part: eliminating the “oddities.”

No matter how good (or not-so-good) their performances, Johnny Depp in Black Mass, Sarah Silverman in I Smile Back, Helen Mirren in Woman in Gold, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation (wrong…), Michael Shannon in 99 Homes, the three-person Beasts of No Nation ensemble (Elba, Abraham Attah, Kurt Egyiawan), and the extensive Trumbo cast have basically no chance of winning.

Although not exactly an “oddity” – as she was shortlisted for the Academy Awards as well – Rachel McAdams is a dark horse in the Best Supporting Actress category for her work in Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. In fact, McAdams is probably even more of a dark horse than Helen Mirren in Trumbo, despite the fact that Mirren was bypassed for the Academy Awards. After all, right-wing gossip columnist Hedda Hopper is an eye-popping role.

So, who’s left?

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett and Saoirse Ronan have been the North American film critics’ favorites this awards season. But that means little when it comes to Hollywood favorites. Or rather, absolute Hollywood favorites. Critics awards do very much help to make the know-nothing Hollywood crowd discover lesser-known gems, which can help these movies (and their actors, directors, etc.) land a nomination.

The choice of winners, however, is a whole different story (e.g., the sentimental The King’s Speech vs. the more analytical The Social Network). And for some time the heart-tugging favorite among the SAG Awards’ Best Actress contenders seems to be resilient sufferer Brie Larson, who survived rape and confinement on screen to become the breakout star of 2015 for her performance in Lenny Abrahamson’s Room.

  • SAG Awards’ Best Actress: Brie Larson for Room.

Best Actor

Initially a free for all, the SAG Awards’ Best Actor category has become the gateway for Leonardo DiCaprio to take home not only his first Academy Award – but also his very first SAG Award[1] for his performance in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s critical and box office hit The Revenant. In spite of having been shortlisted nine times (four times as part of film ensembles), DiCaprio has never won an Actor statuette.

Now, it’s his turn. A Michael Fassbender win (for Danny Boyle’s box office flop Steve Jobs), though not exactly impossible, would be quite an upset.

  • SAG Awards’ Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant.

Best Supporting Actress

The Best Supporting Actress category is a tough one, what with two young actresses in de facto lead roles – Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl; Rooney Mara in Carol – and two established stars in showy supporting roles – hat-wearing Helen Mirren in Trumbo; Polish-accented Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs – vying for the SAG Award.

The Golden Globes’ voters went for Hollywood Foreign Press Association favorite Kate Winslet. Although the Screen Actors Guild voters could also go Winslet’s way, I’m betting on relative newcomer Alicia Vikander, who was seen in no less than four movies last year and who received widespread praise – and several awards – for her work in … Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, in which she, shockingly, does play more of a supporting character.

And that’s how the Hollywood machinery usually works. You get nominated for one particular movie or performance, but win for another. Or for the combo. Or for your touching acceptance speeches. Or whatever.

For the record, Alicia Vikander’s other two 2015 releases were John Wells’ Burnt, starring Bradley Cooper, and Guy Ritchie’s costly box office bomb The Man from U.N.C.L.E., starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer.

  • SAG Awards’ Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl.

Best Supporting Actor

In case the SAG Awards’ voters decide to side (sorry) with U.S. critics, this year’s Best Supporting Actor winner will be Mark Rylance for his work in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. In case they like The Big Short as much as the Producers Guild of America voters, then former Batman Christian Bale may turn out to be the winner for his performance in Adam McKay’s ensemble comedy.

Else, they could take the sentimental route by following the lead of the droll Broadcast Film Critics Association – the group that, just because, gave Star Wars: The Force Awakens a latter-day Best Picture nomination.* If so, the SAG Awards’ big The Actor statuette will go to little Jacob Tremblay, who received positive notices for his performance as Brie Larson’s son in Room and who may have felt quite disappointed when he failed to receive a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his (male) lead performance in Room.

Well, I’m expecting quite a bit of awards season sentimentality this year. Like just about every year. And since veteran Italian-American actor Sylvester Stallone’s work in Ryan Coogler’s boxing drama Creed was outrageously snubbed by the SAG Awards’ voters…

  • SAG Awards’ Best Supporting Actor: Jacob Tremblay for Room.

* Jacob Tremblay was the Critics’ Choice Awards’ winner in the Best Young Actor/Actress category. Sylvester Stallone won the Best Supporting Actor Award for Creed.

Best Cast

It’s basically a three-way race:

  • Spotlight has been the critics’ favorite by a wide margin and it boasts a prestige cast (Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, etc.) and adult topics (child molestation, corruption, religion, freedom of the press).
  • The Big Short was the Producers Guild’s favorite and it also has a prestigious cast that includes Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Melissa Leo, etc.
  • Enthusiastically received in some U.S. quarters (and dismissed in others), F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton has no prestige cast; however, it would be the populist choice. After all, this biopic of the hip hop group N.W.A. is by far the biggest domestic box office hit among the SAG Awards’ nominees in the Best Cast category. (The film, as to be expected, has fared much worse at the international box office.)

More importantly, a victory for Straight Outta Compton would also prove to the world – not that the overwhelming majority of people outside of both Twitter and the United States care either way – that Hollywood isn’t really racist. Or at least that the people in the American film industry do their best to pretend that they are not.

Anyhow, that’s an excellent reason to hand an award for “best” anything to a group of individuals. Or maybe not. But not infrequently, that’s how these things work.

  • SAG Awards’ Best Cast: Straight Outta Compton.

Television and stunt ensemble categories

My brief predictions in the SAG Awards’ TV and stunt ensemble categories. Here they are:

  • Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall.
  • Best Actress in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco.
  • Best Actor in a Drama Series: Jon Hamm in Mad Men.
  • Best Actress in a Drama Series: Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder.
  • Best Actor in a Comedy Series: Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent.
  • Best Actress in a Comedy Series: Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation.
  • Best Ensemble in a Drama Series: Mad Men.
  • Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Transparent.
  • Best Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: Mad Max: Fury Road.
  • Best Stunt Ensemble in a Drama or Comedy Series: Game of Thrones.

See also: SAG Awards’ full list of winners and (surprising) nominations.

SAG Awards’ potential winners Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay Room image: A24 Films.

Screen Actors Guild Awards website.

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