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4 Things to Watch for at the SAG Nominations

Black Panther, A Star Is Born, and The Favourite. Photo: Disney/Marvel/Warner Bros/Fox Searchlight Pictures

Critics are, well, critics, and the Golden Globes are run by people who make up fake interviews with Drew Barrymore. If you want to know what Hollywood really thinks about the year’s Oscar contenders, you’ve got to wait until the various guilds weigh in. First up: Wednesday’s nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards. As Oscar bellwethers go, the SAG Awards have both statistical strength and overlapping membership on their side. Nominations are determined by a random sampling of 2,500 Guild members, many of whom also belong to the Academy. Last year’s ceremony matched the Oscars on 15 of the 20 possible acting nominees; two years ago, it was 16, including five-for-five in Best Supporting Actress. With that in mind, here’s a guide to what I, Vulture’s Official Oscar Pundit, will be watching for at tomorrow’s nominations, which you can watch here at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Will A Star Is Born or Roma make the cut in Best Cast?
Before Shape of Water last year, no movie had ever won Best Picture at the Oscars without first getting nominated in SAG’s Best Cast in a Motion Picture category. Two of this year’s presumed heavyweights, A Star Is Born and Roma, both got left out of Best Acting Ensemble at the Critics’ Choice Awards, and there are reasons to believe that they might have trouble getting in at the SAGs, too: Like La La Land and Call Me by Your Name, both of which missed the cut in previous years, A Star Is Born is essentially a two-hander. (Apologies to Sam Elliott and Gail.) And despite its large ensemble, Roma is focused on one single character, Yalitza Aparicio’s Cleo. I don’t know if a snub will mean too much — the streak is already broken — but either getting in would be a sign of real strength.

Are both actress categories already set?
After last week’s Golden Globe nominations, prognosticators seem to have settled on a final five in both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress: Emily Blunt, Glenn Close, Olivia Colman, Lady Gaga, and Melissa McCarthy in the former; Amy Adams, Claire Foy, Regina King, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz in the latter. But it’s rare for the SAGs to go five-for-five in two different categories. Could someone like Widows’ Viola Davis or Crazy Rich Asians’ Michelle Yeoh sneak in and inject some suspense into the race?

Can Willem Dafoe and Ethan Hawke both make it into Best Actor?
As actors’ actors looking for their first Oscar win in tiny, arty films made by prickly auteurs, these two have been linked in my mind all season long. They occupy the same general lane, and most of the precursors have picked one or the other. Hawke earned nods at the Gothams and the Independent Spirits (with a win in the former), while Dafoe got in at the Globes. The Critics’ Choice Awards honored them both, but that field was seven strong; fitting both men in will be harder in the narrowed SAG category. Whoever makes the cut at the SAGs should be considered in the lead for an Oscar nom.

Will Black Panther show up?
Black Panther is getting a major awards push, but its supporters so far haven’t had a great opportunity to reward Ryan Coogler’s film: Most of the earliest precursors restrict their fields to indie films, and critics’ groups are often more interested in shining a spotlight on underappreciated gems than honoring a film that made $1.3 billion worldwide. There have been some good indicators along the way — the film cracked the AFI’s top ten, as well as the Globes’ Best Drama category, and got 12 nominations at the Critics’ Choice Awards, which never met a blockbuster they didn’t want to shower in hardware — but the SAGs present the first true test of its awards bona fides. Two categories intrigue: If the film makes it into Best Cast and Michael B. Jordan earns a nod in Best Supporting Actor, we’ll know the Wakandans are a force to be reckoned with come Oscar night.

4 Things to Watch for at the SAG Awards Nominations