They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don't They?

Spotlight's SAGing Bid Revived

By J. Don Birnam

February 1, 2016

Nothing like the excitement of a bunch of people sitting around a table planning things.

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Spotlight held off The Big Short at the Screen Actors’ Guild awards this weekend, and we finally have an Oscar race. Or do we?

Analyzing the Screen Actors’ Guild.

As you may have seen on twitter and Instagram, the story of the SAG awards developed as a story of diversity in their choices. A clear message to the Academy in the wake of #OscarSoWhite, many of the TV prizes went to racial minorities. Then, as many predicted, Idris Elba won in the supporting actor race. And, as I expected last week, Alicia Vikander, Brie Larson, and Leonardo DiCaprio sailed to wins in their respective categories. The latter two also have Globes, so an Oscar victory is almost a mortal lock at this point. Given this, here are updated Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress power rankings.

And what to make of Supporting Actor? This race will remain hard throughout the rest of the year. Sylvester Stallone was not nominated for SAG or BAFTA. His speech at the Globes was terrible. Is he really going to win? It’s possible, but I don’t see it. People though Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Mickey Rourke all were headed to “career comeback awards.” If Stallone won, he’d overtake Halle Barry for most Razzie wins by an Oscar winning actor. I just don’t think that the goodwill that he has from some in the media or blogosphere will necessarily translate into goodwill with snotty Academy voters. I think they will be urged to look a bit more serious than that, and may even actively avoid rewarding the white nominee from the black movie, after the controversy.


When in doubt, I always go for the best performance of the bunch. Mark Rylance gives that performance by miles. Bale is good, and could win, particularly if they want to shore up The Big Short’s Oscar tally. Right now I’m putting him ahead in the Best Supporting Actor power rankings, but this will change as the Best Picture race changes over the last four weeks of the season.

And then, given how the night was going, some were thinking that Beasts of No Nation could pull off a huge upset at SAG. But it was always going to be Spotlight or The Big Short - only The Birdcage, when SAG was in its infancy, won at SAG without a corresponding Best Picture nomination.

So, in the end, Spotlight prevailed and obtained a much needed win in its sinking candidacy. A win by The Big Short would have effectively ended the race. Perhaps The Big Short struggled to be understood by the broader audience of SAG, or seemed less serious, whereas Spotlight seems serious, prestigious, and is easier to follow.

What’s Next For Best Picture?

Despite SAG, The Big Short has that ever important PGA win in its pocket - the only one with a preferential ballot. SAG, meanwhile, is only 10/20 in predicting Best Picture in its existence. So take that for what you will. On the other hand, trends are meant to be broken. It’s unlikely that PGA will always predict Best Picture.

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