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Ensembles Jockey for Position as SAG Deadline Looms

The only major contender not going out on screener is 'The Hateful Eight.'

The Big Short
Courtesy of Paramount

Nomination ballots for the 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are due at the SAG-AFTRA elections firm by noon on Monday. We’ve already covered how this date seems almost arbitrarily early, but the good news is nearly every film was able to ship out screeners to the group’s nominating committee. All but one, anyway.

Quentin Tarantino wants as many people to see “The Hateful Eight” in 70mm as possible during the roadshow roll-out phase between now and the film’s wide release in January. As a result, I’m told he and the Weinstein Co. have decided to forgo sending screeners to SAG, so everyone is bracing for the possibility of the guild passing over the film’s ensembles and performances as a result.

Numerous screenings have of course been set for in New York and Los Angeles, as well as in a number of far-flung markets, to reach the nominating committee. So maybe that will penetrate. But even if it doesn’t, TWC has been here before. “Django Unchained” did not score SAG nods three years ago, yet still made it into the Academy’s best picture race. “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013) and “Selma” (2014), too.

(You can check out an exclusive featurette on the cast of “The Hateful Eight” below.)

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With all of that out of the way, what to expect of that ensemble category? “Spotlight” seems the most secure and, in all likelihood, the eventual winner. “The Martian” is a solid bet, too, while “The Big Short” has been playing well in screenings and should be able to find its way in.

Beyond that, it’s a little tricky. Screeners of “Joy” and “The Revenant” went out, which could make all the difference, but of course they’re arriving very late. “Brooklyn” is also a lurking possibility, while films like “Carol” and “Steve Jobs,” which could easily net multiple performance nominations, have real shots as well.

But I say watch out for the beloved ensembles of “Straight Outta Compton” and “Black Mass.” Both films are still very much in the running and, quite important given the early timeline, have been plugging away for months since their respective August and September releases.

Nominations will be announced Wednesday, Dec. 9.