They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don't They?
SAG Stuns La La Land

By J. Don Birnam

December 19, 2016

It looks so much warmer there than it is here.

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On the heels of the Golden Globe nominations, the Screen Actors Guild had a few doozies of their own. The biggest, of course, is that they snubbed La La Land for Best Ensemble. No movie has won Best Picture without this nod since Braveheart did it in the very first year of SAG. So, it's sort of a big deal. Let's see what else they told us.

Expected Players: Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea Alone this Time

It is now only Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight that have run the gamut, and they're doing just fine. The former is doing great with the actors - netting four nods overall from SAG, including finally some recognition for Lucas Hedges in the supporting race. But Moonlight is no slouch, with three nominations, including the two supporting ones it's been netting so far.

It will be a tough race between the two - Manchester is an acting clinic, but Moonlight is very beloved while the other is respected.


Biggest SAG Losers: Silence, Loving, La La Land

Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood continue not to do well, and this time Mel Gibson missed out too, with Hacksaw Ridge having space only for Andrew Garfield. I still think it has a Best Picture nod sewn up, but it's a problem.

And an even bigger problem faces Scorsese's Silence. No recognition from Globes or SAG is a huge problem. The Academy has an extra week to vote this year and they may still get to it in their screeners, but it's hanging by a thread at this point. Again, late releases continue to do poorly with precursors, which may affect their overall Oscar chances.

Oh, and whatever happened to Loving? With no recognition here, it appears dead in the water across all fields.

But of course the bigger mystery is La La Land. Can a movie win Best Picture without this? Of course it can. I've always advocated that it's very silly to say that a statistic can stop a movie from winning. Voters don't vote like that. And don't get me started on presidential politics.

On the other hand, people that wanted Gravity, Avatar, The Revenant to win Best Picture dismissed the lack of a SAG Ensemble nod as not important because those are not acting pieces. All those movies lost Best Picture - some of them to movies that actually won the Ensemble prize. And while it's fair that Gravity, for example, isn't an acting movie - La La Land sort of is. It's not just Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone - there's a supporting cast. And a cast of two has never stopped SAG if they like the movie. Just ask the cast of Fences, which received three nods.

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