The Oscar acting races are over: Why the four SAG award winners will go all the way

Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES -- The SAG Awards were handed out Sunday night, and for those who stopped watching after Brad Pitt's acceptance speech because they were too busy trying to find him on Tinder, a quick recap: Surprises were scant, Adam Sandler got a well-deserved shout-out and the "Parasite" cast earned two standing ovations -- one for just showing up onstage and another for becoming the first foreign language movie to win the prize for best film ensemble.

Renee Zellweger, Joaquin Phoenix, Laura Dern and Brad Pitt won the individual movie acting honors, repeating their victories at the Golden Globes. It would take a stunning upset -- much bigger, say, than Olivia Colman winning the lead actress honor last year over Glenn Close -- for any member of this quartet not to win an Oscar this year.

Certainly, there's precedent. The Oscars have rubber-stamped the individual SAG Awards winners seven times over the last 25 years, most recently in 2018, when Gary Oldman ("Darkest Hour"), Frances McDormand ("Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"), Sam Rockwell ("Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri") and Allison Janney ("I, Tonya") ran the table.

The real intrigue remains in the best picture race. The "Parasite" win offers the movie's loyal followers a measure of hope that it can make history again and become the first foreign-language picture to win the film academy's top prize.

Let's take a look at how it will shake out at the Academy Awards on Feb. 9.



The winner: "Parasite"

The past: The winner of this award went on to take the best picture Oscar 11 of 24 years, easily making it the SAG's least-trustworthy Oscar precursor. (The ensemble prize wasn't awarded in 1994, the SAG Awards' first year.)

Will history repeat itself? Obviously, this prize is not much of a precursor for Oscar success. "Hidden Figures" won it, for goodness sake. But those two "Parasite" standing ovations and the passion behind them send out a lot of good vibes for academy members to absorb and consider. We're 11 days out from the start of final Oscar voting. That's plenty of time for voters to shuffle their rankings and move Bong Joon Ho's thriller up on their ballots. And if Bong prevails Saturday at the Directors Guild, momentum could really shift.

However ... "1917" won the Producers Guild's top honor Saturday night. And because that group uses the same preferential ballot as the Oscars, the PGA Award has offered a reliable reading of the best picture race over recent years. These awards typically go to movies that most people can agree are ... perfectly fine. "Least disliked" is another way to put it.


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