Analysis of the 2022 SAG Awards with Scott Feinberg – The Hollywood Reporter
Exactly one month before the 94th Academy Awards, the 28th SAG Awards — the first large-scale, in-person awards show since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, held Sunday night at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica — confirmed widespread suspicions about some Oscar Races, but completely upset the apple basket for others.
SAG Award nominees are chosen by a relatively small nominating committee – some 2,500 members randomly selected from the roughly 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA, America’s largest actors’ union. But SAG Award winners are chosen by the membership at large, and given that by far the largest branch of the Film Academy is made up of actors, most of whom are members of SAG-AFTRA, it always has been wise to pay attention to SAG-AFTRA. preferences.
That dynamic has gotten a little murkier in recent years, as SAG has merged with AFTRA and the likes of TV weather forecasters, radio hosts and TikTokers — constituencies that, of course, are do not represented in the Academy — acquired the right to vote, and the Academy became a much more international organization. Even so, members of the Film Academy often align themselves with the decisions made by the awards groups that precede it, especially those that are well received.
On Sunday night, the award for best SAG film, best ensemble, was won by CODA, Apple’s moving comedy-drama about a family of four, three of whom are deaf and the fourth is hearing. The cast of CODA – the first mostly deaf cast to win the honor – held the casts of other Best Picture Oscar nominees Belfast, Don’t look up and King Richardas well as Gucci House, and was very warmly welcomed into the room. (Movies Troy Kotsur also won Best Supporting Actor, becoming the first deaf person to win an individual SAG award.)
So what are we going to make of this?
On the one hand, three of the last four Best Picture Oscar winners — The shape of water, green paper and nomadland – weren’t even appointed for best SAG Award ensemble, so that’s good news for The power of the dog (the most Oscar-nominated film), plus, theoretically, other Best Picture Oscar nominees West Side Story, Licorice Pizza, Dunes, drive my car and alley of nightmares.
Plus, when the SAG Award for Best Ensemble and the Oscar for Best Picture diverge, it’s usually because the former, a particularly diverse body, chose to honor a film that focused on an underrepresented group — Ugly, hidden numbers and Black Panther — while the latter have chosen to go in another direction, which could be a source of problems for CODA.
On the other hand, the best ensemble SAG Award has “predicted” the four major Best Picture Oscar upsets that have occurred since the former award was established at the second SAG Awards ceremony 21 years ago (a per decade): Shakespeare in love more than Saving Private Ryan in 1999, crash more than Brokeback Mountain in 2006, Projector more than The ghost in 2016 and Parasite more than 1917 in 2020.
Bearing in mind that the Academy uses a “ranked ballot” to choose its best picture, which benefits films that most people at least really likeagainst polarizing films that some love and others to hateI think CODA is well positioned to move forward. lose at CODA Sunday night undeniably dealt a blow to the prospects of Belfastbut the latter should also play well on the preferential ballot and therefore cannot be counted against The power of the dog.
The other guilds that will weigh in in the coming weeks — particularly the Producers Guild Awards, the only precursor ceremony to the Oscars that uses ranked ballots just like the one used by the Oscars — could help further clarify the lay of the field. (The power of the dogthe helmsman Jeanne Campion seems almost certain to win the top prize at the Directors Guild Awards.)
When it comes to individual acting races, I suspect we’ll see three of the four – and possibly all four – SAG Award winners repeat themselves on Oscar night, as has been the case during two of the last four years.
Kotsur’s performance and personal story seem irresistible in the Best Supporting Actor race and in the Best Supporting Actress race West Side Storyit’s Ariana DeBose looking increasingly unstoppable for his triple threat performance in the same game for which Rita Moreno won this same award exactly 60 years ago.
Meanwhile, the award for Best Actor in King Richardit’s Will Smith — and his heartfelt, tearful acceptance speech — likely cemented his status as a frontrunner; if Tick, tick… Boom!it’s Andrew Garfield was going to have the mojo to beat Smith at the Oscars for his portrayal of a creative artist — specifically, Jonathan Larsona playwright who has worked closely with actors — I think we would have seen that first on Sunday evening, given who the votes were cast by.
Which brings me to Best Actress. Sunday night’s field included three of the five Oscar nominees – Tammy Faye’s eyesit’s Jessica Chastain, The lost girlit’s Olivia Colman and Be the Ricardos‘ Nicole Kidman – as well as Lady Gaga for Gucci Housewhich was popular enough to land a SAG Award nomination for Best Ensemble, and Jennifer Hudson for The respect. The fact that Chastain prevailed on this formidable ground is, to me, highly remarkable. Will she then be able to retain Colman and Kidman, as well as Parallel mothers‘ Penelope Cruz and spencerit’s Kristen Stewart? I think that’s a very real possibility.
Of the Oscar-nominated quintet, none came from an Oscar-nominated Best Picture, and only two — Chastain and Stewart — have never won an Oscar. Chastain, unlike the others, also underwent a huge physical transformation for his part, which for many – especially non-actors, who make up 85% of the people who will choose acting Oscar winners – is synonymous with act-with-a-capital-A. Case in point this century: Best Actress Oscar winners The Monster Ballit’s Halle Berry, Hours“Kidman, Monsterit’s Charlize Theron, The Queenit’s Helen Mirren (who won a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday night), Through rose-colored glassesit’s Marion Cotillard, The readerit’s Kate Winslet, The iron womanit’s Meryl Streep and Judyit’s Renee Zellweger. Also worth noting: the victories for Cotillard, Streep and Zellweger were accompanied by Oscars for best makeup/hair (which turned into victories for Through rose-colored glasses and The iron woman). Tammy Faye’s eyesis the only nomination besides that of Chastain? You guessed it, best makeup/hair.
And, perhaps most importantly, Chastain’s SAG Award win will put her top of mind when Oscar voters scan their ballot. Others have now deemed her worthy. She made a good speech. And there is no obvious alternative to merge behind. So she’s your new favorite.
That’s the power of a SAG Award.