The 2015 Oscar race has shifted yet again.
By winning the Best Cast Award at the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Spotlight has regained the awards season edge.
As an early favorite last fall along with the period drama Carol, Spotlight saw its front-runner status slide when Mad Max: Fury Road began to rack up critics citations and award nominations, followed by The Revenant virtually sweeping the Golden Globes in all major drama categories. Then last week, the Producers Guild honored The Big Short as the year’s best film, effectively putting the whole race into a complete free-for-all.
Now, the Screen Actors Guild may be bringing the awards season full circle. By honoring Spotlight with its top prize, SAG has shown where the actors are leaning, and their membership branch in the Academy is by far the largest. Still, historically speaking, the SAG Best Ensemble and Oscar Best Picture winners have matched up less than 50% of the time – only 10 out of 22 – so while the win certainly helps, it by no means predicts a lock.
The individual races brought much more clarity to 3 of the other 4 categories. The Best Actor, Actress, and Supporting Actress winners went according to expectation (see winners below). All three are now the clear Oscar favorites. But in the Supporting Actor slot, winner Idris Elba (for Beasts Of No Nation) isn’t even nominated for an Academy Award. That probably leaves Sylvester Stallone, who wasn’t SAG nominated for his heralded return as Rocky Balboa in Creed, as the prohibitive favorite to round out the Oscar acting awards.
In the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, it’s intriguing to note how diverse the SAG Awards were by contrast. Of 10 individual acting awards across film and television categories, 5 went to African-Americans (and two to Elba; he won a 2nd as Actor In A TV Movie/Miniseries for his role in BBC’s Luther).
The biggest ripple effect from this year’s SAG results isn’t so much that Spotlight won but rather that The Big Short didn’t. If it had taken the SAG Cast trophy – after having surprised last week at the Producers Guild Awards – The Big Short would’ve been a clear favorite come Oscar night. Now it’s back to being a dark horse, at best.
The last major Oscar pre-cursor comes next week: the Directors Guild. If their choice isn’t Spotlight director Tom McCarthy or The Big Short director Adam McKay (personally, I think it’ll go to either George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road or Ridley Scott for The Martian), we’ll have the most unpredictable Academy Awards ceremony in memory.
Here are the 22nd Annual SAG Award winners for 2015, in the film categories:
Outstanding Cast – Spotlight
Outstanding Female Actor – Brie Larson, Room
Outstanding Male Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Outstanding Female Supporting Actor – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Outstanding Male Supporting Actor – Idris Elba, Beasts Of No Nation
Lifetime Achievement Award – Carol Burnett
To see winners in the television categories, click here.