It’s a busy weekend for awards-watchers, with the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday, followed by the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday. Both guild kudos are considered heavy indicators of who will take home the top prizes at the Academy Awards; last year, all four actors who won SAG film awards went on to land Oscars. Perhaps it’s because the SAG Awards voting body is made up of 111,228 eligible SAG-AFTRA members, and actors represent the largest percentage of Oscar voters.
So here are my fearless predictions for this year’s SAG Award winners.
Actor in a Supporting Role
The Nominees: Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”; Robert Duvall, “The Judge”; Edward Norton, “Birdman”; Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”; J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
A remarkable group of actors, but this race really comes down to 20-year-overnight-success J.K. Simmons and Greatest Actor of His Generation™ Edward Norton. Both are brilliant as arrogant, blustery performers but Simmons has the edge with precursor wins from the Golden Globes and Critic’s Choice Awards. And since the voting membership is shared by a lot of TV voters, who doesn’t love a veteran of “Oz” and “Law and Order”?
Prediction: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Actress in a Supporting Role
The Nominees: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”; Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”; Emma Stone, “Birdman”; Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”; Naomi Watts, “St. Vincent”
The easiest call of the night. Frontrunner Patricia Arquette should continue her winning streak for her role as the loving and complex mother of “Boyhood.”
Prediction: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Actor in a Lead Role
The Nominees: Michael Keaton, “Birdman”; Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”; Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”; Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”: Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
The actors can breathe a little easier with Bradley Cooper safely out of this race; “American Sniper” likely came out too late to get even momentum for a SAG nom. While I’d love to see Jake Gyllenhaal rewarded for his daring, funny turn in “Nightcrawler,” especially since he was passed over for an Oscar nom, this is seen as a match-up between Golden Globe winners Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. A close call, but Keaton’s veteran status, combined with his comeback narrative, should push him over the edge.
Prediction: Micheal Keaton, “Birdman”
Actress in a Lead Role
The Nominees: Jennifer Aniston, “Cake”; Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”; Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”; Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”; Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
I’ve heard some SAG voters say they were torn between Jennifer Aniston and Julianne Moore, and were going with Aniston because she was snubbed by the Oscars. Also, much like Simmons, SAG voters could look kindly upon the TV icon. That said, this has been Moore’s to lose from the beginning, and I don’t see her hot streak ending here.
Prediction: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
The Nominees: “Birdman”; “Boyhood”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “The Imitation Game”; “The Theory of Everything”
Never has this category been so completely up for grabs. As the best picture frontrunner, “Boyhood” could continue its winning streak but time and again I caution that SAG ensemble is not the equivalent of Oscar best picture (see: “12 Years a Slave,” “The Artist,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “The Departed” and “The Hurt Locker,” all of which lost SAG ensemble.) But “Boyhood” clinching it could signify a juggernaut (see: “Argo”). But SAG tends to go with big and starry casts, which would indicate an advantage to “Birdman,” which already has three of its actors individually nominated. “The Imitation Game” could be the surprise dark horse; if it clinches a win at Saturday’s PGA Awards, it’s odds will greatly increase — though that prize is expected to go to “Boyhood.” And then there’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a movie that has surprised at every turn, whether sweeping all the guild nominations or snagging the top prize for comedy/musical film at the Golden Globes. To be honest, it’s anyone’s game, but I’m betting on a “Birdman”/”Grand Budapest” showdown. For now, let’s give the edge to “Birdman” — a film about actors, featuring a crew of the best performers working today.