Spotlight Variety SAG Winners Portrait Gallery
Dan Doperalski for Variety

After Adam McKay’s housing crisis dramedy “The Big Short” claimed this year’s Producers Guild prize Jan. 23, Team “Spotlight” needed to bounce back. It did just that at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday, as the film’s tight-knit ensemble (featuring Billy Crudup, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci) claimed the award for outstanding cast in a motion picture.

Resiliency has been a strength for Tom McCarthy’s journalism drama. The film rounded out 2015 by dominating the critics awards circuit, yet came up short among the craft guilds at the start of the new year. After landing just three mentions from the British Academy (which notably passed over McCarthy in the directing field), it lost the best picture, drama Golden Globe to “The Revenant.” But the Directors Guild breathed new life into the journalism drama a few days later, with a nomination for McCarthy, and soon after, key Oscar noms for director and film editing assured that “Spotlight’s” contender status was not on the wane.

The PGA and SAG awards have continued the roller-coaster ride, and there are likely a few more ups and downs left on the track before all is said and done.

Indeed, “The Big Short’s” PGA credentials might be more valuable than “Spotlight’s” SAG triumph, not least because the producers group is the only one that relies on the same kind of preferential balloting system the Academy uses to determine its best picture winner. Additionally, the SAG prize hardly guarantees Oscar victory, despite the Academy’s actors branch being its largest group; only 10 times out of 20 has a SAG ensemble winner gone on to best picture glory. The PGA, meanwhile, has been batting 1.000 for seven straight years.

Perhaps the Directors Guild will shed more light on matters Feb. 6, but perhaps not. If George Miller wins, prepare for prognosticator pandemonium. But at the moment, “Spotlight” vs. “The Big Short” certainly feels like the race for best picture. So how did we get here?

“Spotlight” began its journey not unlike last year’s best picture winner, with a Venice Film Festival world premiere and a Telluride bow immediately thereafter. Six of the last seven best picture winners have played Telluride, making it an ersatz good-luck charm, but “Spotlight” also asserted itself as a popular drama with broad appeal. It played Toronto before hitting theaters Nov. 6, and has a domestic box office tally just north of $33 million.

“The Big Short,” on the other hand, wasn’t even guaranteed to be out of the editing room in time for a 2015 release for most of the year. Paramount began screening it for industry audiences in October, far from press scrutiny. Then came the official premiere at the annual AFI Fest in November, an event that, largely due to its place on the calendar, has been a dicey prospect for Oscar hopefuls; no best picture winner has ever premiered there. The film was well-received by critics, but mercifully avoided the awards spotlight (no pun intended) throughout the season, never being tagging as the “front-runner,” per se — an increasingly difficult burden for Oscar hopefuls to bear. The film was released on Dec. 11, and has raked in around $60 million in domestic box office receipts.

A year ago, neither McKay nor McCarthy seemed likely to find himself in this position. McCarthy was licking his wounds after bowing “The Cobbler” to a sea of pans at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival. It opened, and promptly died ($24,000 — for an Adam Sandler movie), in March. McKay, meanwhile, was still just Will Ferrell’s cohort, riding high on an “Anchorman” sequel.

Now they’re locking horns for the industry’s top honor. Who knew?

Latest Predictions:

Silence Picture
  1. "La La Land" Lionsgate

  2. "Moonlight" A24

  3. "Fences" Paramount Pictures

  4. "Hacksaw Ridge" Lionsgate

  5. "Manchester by the Sea" Amazon/Roadside Attractions

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Damien Chazelle la la land BTS Director
  1. Damien Chazelle "La La Land"

  2. Barry Jenkins "Moonlight"

  3. Kenneth Lonergan "Manchester by the Sea"

  4. Mel Gibson "Hacksaw Ridge"

  5. Martin Scorsese "Silence"

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Manchester by the Sea Actor
  1. Denzel Washington "Fences"

  2. Casey Affleck "Manchester by the Sea"

  3. Ryan Gosling "La La Land"

  4. Tom Hanks "Sully"

  5. Andrew Garfield "Hacksaw Ridge"

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Jackie Natalie Portman Actress
  1. Emma Stone "La La Land"

  2. Natalie Portman "Jackie"

  3. Annette Bening "20th Century Women"

  4. Meryl Streep "Florence Foster Jenkins"

  5. Isabelle Huppert "Elle"

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Hugh Grant Florence Foster Jenkins Supporting Actor
  1. Jeff Bridges "Hell or High Water"

  2. Mahershala Ali "Moonlight"

  3. Dev Patel "Lion"

  4. Hugh Grant "Florence Foster Jenkins"

  5. Mykelti Williamson "Fences"

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Nicole Kidman Lion Supporting Actress
  1. Viola Davis "Fences"

  2. Michelle Williams "Manchester by the Sea"

  3. Naomie Harris "Moonlight"

  4. Nicole Kidman "Lion"

  5. Greta Gerwig "20th Century Women"

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Arrival Adapted Screenplay
  1. "Lion" Luke Davies

  2. "Fences" August Wilson

  3. "Arrival" Eric Heisserer

  4. "Hacksaw Ridge" Andrew Knight, Robert Schenkkan

  5. "Sully" Todd Komarnicki

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Hell or High Water trailer Original Screenplay
  1. "La La Land" Damien Chazelle

  2. "Moonlight" Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney

  3. "Manchester by the Sea" Kenneth Lonergan

  4. "Hell or High Water" Taylor Sheridan

  5. "The Lobster" Efthymis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos

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Ben Affleck John Goodman Live By Night Cinematography
  1. "Silence" Rodrigo Prieto

  2. "Live By Night" Robert Richardson

  3. "La La Land" Linus Sandgren

  4. "Lion" Greig Fraser

  5. "Jackie" Stephane Fontaine

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Fantastic Beasts and where to find them Costume Design
  1. "Live By Night" Jacqueline West

  2. "Silence" Dante Ferretti

  3. "Allied" Joanna Johnston

  4. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" Colleen Atwood

  5. "La La Land" Mary Zophres

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Sully Movie Film Editing
  1. "La La Land" Tom Cross

  2. "Sully" Blu Murray

  3. "Moonlight" Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders

  4. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" Jabez Olssen

  5. "Arrival" Joe Walker

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Star Trek Beyond Makeup & Hairstyling
  1. "Star Trek Beyond"

  2. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

  3. "Hacksaw Ridge"

  4. "Florence Foster Jenkins"

  5. "Gold"

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The BFG Original Score
  1. "The BFG" John Williams

  2. "La La Land" Justin Hurwitz

  3. "The Jungle Book" John Debney

  4. "Lion" Hauschka, Dustin O'Halloran

  5. "Florence Foster Jenkins" Alexandre Desplat

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Hidden Figures trailer Best Original Song
  1. "Audition (The Fools Who Dream") "La La Land"

  2. "How Far I'll Go" "Moana"

  3. "City of Stars" "La La Land"

  4. "Runnin'" "Hidden Figures"

  5. "Faith" "Sing"

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Passengers Production Design
  1. "Live By Night" Jess Gonchor; Nancy Haigh

  2. "Silence" Dante Ferretti; Francesca Lo Schiavo

  3. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" Stuart Craig, James Hambige; Anna Pinnock

  4. "La La Land" David Wasco; Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

  5. "Passengers" Guy Hendrix Dyas; Gene Serdena

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Rogue One A Star Wars Story trailer Sound Editing
  1. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

  2. "Hacksaw Ridge"

  3. "Live By Night"

  4. "Sully"

  5. "Deepwater Horizon"

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Hacksaw Ridge Venice Sound Mixing
  1. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

  2. "La La Land"

  3. "The Jungle Book"

  4. "Hacksaw Ridge"

  5. "Live By Night"

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KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Animated Feature
  1. "Zootopia" Walt Disney Studios

  2. "Kubo and the Two Strings" Laika/Focus Features

  3. "The Red Turtle" Sony Pictures Classics

  4. "Moana" Walt Disney Studios

  5. "Miss Hokusai" GKIDS

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Weiner Sundance 2016 Documentary Feature
  1. "O.J: Made in America" Ezra Edelman

  2. "Weiner" Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

  3. "13th" Ava DuVernay

  4. "Fire at Sea" Gianfranco Rosi

  5. "I Am Not Your Negro" Raoul Peck

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Toni-Erdmann-1 Foreign Language
  1. "Toni Erdmann" Germany; Maren Ade

  2. "Land of Mine" Denmark; Martin Zandvliet

  3. "The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki" Finland; Juho Kuosmanen

  4. "The Idol" Palestine; Hany Abu Assad

  5. "Barakah Meets Barakah" Saudi Arabia; Mahmoud Sabbagh

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Jungle Book Visual Effects
  1. "The Jungle Book"

  2. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

  3. "Doctor Strange"

  4. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"

  5. "Passengers"

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