Friday, November 1, 2013

The Oscar Narrative: First SAG Ensemble Predictions

Best Ensemble
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Lee Daniel's The Butler
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Commentary - The SAG Awards have become more and more important over the years, and it seems to come down to either SAG or BAFTA winners for the four acting Oscars. I am not currently going to make predictions in those four SAG categories, because I would probably just pick the twenty I am already picking for the Oscars at this moment (See the sidebar for current predictions). But the SAG Ensemble award is an interesting one this year, especially if you consider the current Oscar race. 12 Years a Slave is most likely the frontrunner, and I cannot see the actors passing up the opportunity to honor the slew of talent in this film. But the next two in line, at this point, seem to be Gravity and Captain Phillips. Gravity is of particular interest. It has joined the now long line of effects-driven films that have made deep marks into the Oscars over the last several years including: Avatar, Inception, Hugo, and last year's Life of Pi. All of these films won several technical Oscars, were nominated (or won) for Best Director, and all lost Best Picture in the end. I think Gravity will do better than them in one instance, and that is that it will most likely earn an acting nomination, both here at SAG, and at the Oscars. That may seem small, but it is a huge advantage for Gravity, as it means it has surpassed the overall strength of those before it, all of whom were ignored by the actors. But I think that both Gravity and Captain Phillips may not be as strong after the SAG nominations are announced. I still think they are major Oscar contenders, and rules are meant to be broken, we see it time and time again. But I think that both films will have trouble landing that coveted SAG Ensemble nomination. No film since Braveheart (which was very early on in SAG's history), has won Best Picture without at least an ensemble nomination. Captain Phillips' cast features most unknowns. Gravity's cast consists of two people. And while Bullock, Hanks, and Clooney, are all bankable and beloved actors, who give great performances, but can they carry their entire films to ensemble nods? I am not convinced at this point. Instead, I am looking to the multiple ensemble-driven films this year that may be more up the SAG alley. First, there are the unseen contenders that have Oscar written all over them, American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall St. If both are as good as they currently look, then their large casts, packed full of SAG winners and nominees, will be in the mix. But what about the other two slots? I think that despite mixed critical reviews, August: Osage County and Lee Daniel's The Butler are probably more competitive here than some of the other, maybe bigger, Oscar contenders simply because of the names on their casts. Of course time will tell. We are six weeks away till SAG announces, and until then, we'll have to wait and see.

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