SAG Awards Tonight: The Race's Decisive Moment?

The cast of Spotlight
eOne Films

The Screen Actors Guild Awards are tonight and they could prove to be a decisive moment in this year's Oscar race. The top prize for Outstanding Cast is arguably a two-way race between The Big Short and Spotlight given that they're the only two Best Picture nominees--and the only two SAG nominees that didn't inspire a collective Whaaaat? when the contender for Outstanding Cast were read and left The Martian, Brooklyn, Steve Jobs, The Hateful Eight, Carol and other superior ensembles unsung.

The Oscar race is shaping up to be a contest between actioner powerhouses Mad Max and The Revenant on one side and timely, talky ensemble films Spotlight and The Big Short on the other. I think that Mad Max has the heat, but the actors' guild didn't give it any love outside the stunt category... and they could have if one considers that it has a much stronger, tougher, and meatier cast than, say, Beasts of No Nation. The Big Short, meanwhile, has some momentum behind it with recent wins at the Producers Guild and American Cinema Editors guild, so Spotlight needs to win with the actors to reassert the loose lead it's been holding against Mad Max. I think it will given the range of talent and skill that riff off one another as a team.

This year's SAG awards have surprisingly low overlap with the Oscar nominees (only 13 out of 20 nominees) with Oscar contenders like Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Mark Ruffalo absent from the list. However, the differences between the SAG and Oscar nominations ultimately show what a competitive year it was--and, more significantly, I think, these nominations display heavy influence of campaigning from the teams behind Beasts of No Nation, Trumbo, I Smile Back, and, yes, Straight Outta Compton. 

It's not to say that Straight Outta Compton doesn't deserve a nomination for Outstanding Cast, but I think this nomination shows that some of the criticism targeted against the Academy is unfair: the cast of young actors is great as whole, but there's no real standout in this team of unknown actors. They work best as a group and they're fairly acknowledged as such. Hey, they could even win given on merit. Wouldn't that be a mic drop for the race?

Outstanding Performance by a Cast:

Beasts of No Nation - Abraham Attah, Kurt Egyiawan, Idris Elba
The Big Short - Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Brad Pitt, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock
Spotlight - Billy Crudup, Brian D'arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci
Straight Outta Compton: Neil Brown, Jr; Paul Giamatti, Corey Hawkins, Aldris Hodge, O'Shea Jackson, Jr; Jason Mitchell
Trumbo- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Louis C.K., Bryan Cranston, David James Elliot, Elle Fanning, John Goodman, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alan Tudyk

★Predicted winner: Spotlight
★I'd vote for: Spotlight
★Shoulda been there: Youth, Steve Jobs, Brooklyn  

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role:

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Johnny Depp, Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

★Predicted winner: Leonardo DiCaprio
★I'd vote for: Michael Fassbender
★Shoulda been there: Michael Caine, Youth; Jake Gyllenhaal, Southpaw

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role:

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back

★Predicted winner: Brie Larson
★I'd vote for: Cate Blanchett
★Shoulda been there: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (nominated for supporting), Nina Hoss, Phoenix

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Jacob Tremblay, Room

★Predicted winner: Mark Rylance
★I'd vote for: Michael Shannon
★Shoulda been there: Benicio Del Toro, Sicario; Michael Keaton, Spotlight; Michael Sheen, Far from the Madding Crowd

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:

Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

★Predicted winner: Alicia Vikander
★I'd vote for: Vikander (it's not a supporting performance, but it's the best performance)
★Shoulda been there: Jane Fonda, Youth; Marion Cotillard, Macbeth

Which actors do you think will win/should win?