Searchlight Pictures’ “Nomadland” has shown it has the ability to pass one of the thorniest tests in the Oscar season canon: the preferential ballot. That’s the method used for selecting a winner at the Producers Guild Awards, which is also used by the Academy Awards for choosing its top prize. On March 24, the film took home the PGA for best picture, which means it’s looking like the Oscar is a done deal.

Of the eight best picture nominees this year, only four — “Minari,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” — seem to have a shot at winning best picture in April. One of the main issues when looking for an alternative to the front-runner is there has to be a consensus on what the No. 2 is (such as “Parasite” over “1917” or “Moonlight” over “La La Land”), which this year has yet to yield.

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MA RAINEYíS BLACK BOTTOM (2020) Chadwick Boseman as Levee. Cr. David Lee/NETFLIX Courtesy of David Lee/Netflix

The next two big precursors on the docket are the SAG Awards on April 4 and the DGA Awards on April 10. The DGA, the PGA and SAG have all coexisted since 1994, shaping the modern-day Oscars race. They overlap greatly with the Academy’s acting, directing and producing branches, and usually give clues of an upset waiting in the wings.

In the past, the perfect storm for a picture winner has been nominations in all three guilds’ top categories, in addition to nods at the Oscars in directing, writing, acting, editing and obviously picture. This year, none of the eight nominees has all of those elements, which marks the second time in 24 years that’s occurred (the other was the 2017 lineup that included “The Shape of Water,” which missed SAG ensemble).

Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13” (1995) is the only film that’s won the top prize from the DGA, the PGA and SAG and has not gone on to win picture.

The DGA Awards look tailor-made for “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao, who is set to become the second woman to win the prize (after Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker”).

Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” (1995) and Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” (2019) are the only films since 1995 to win picture and director without winning DGA and PGA. That doesn’t bode well for anything not titled “Nomadland.”

As we look ahead to the SAG Awards, what can we expect?

With a pre-taped winners announcement and ceremony taking place, there’s a chance the list of winners leaks to the public before the televised show. On March 31, SAG will assemble the comedy and drama television nominees via Zoom to reveal the winners, while on April 1, the TV movie, limited series and film categories will assemble for their Zoom announcement. The show airs on April 4. Anyone participating in the winners’ announcement must sign an NDA.

Here are my SAG predictions. The individual rankings are on the category pages.

  • Cast Ensemble: “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
  • Actor: Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  • Actress: Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
  • Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)
  • Supporting Actress: Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari” (A24)
  • Stunt Ensemble: “Mulan” (Walt Disney Pictures)

Check out the SAG Award TV predictions that look to have a night made for “The Crown,” “Schitt’s Creek” and “Ted Lasso.”

2021 SAG Awards Predictions (Film)

Academy Awards Predictions (All Categories)