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SAG Awards Film Predictions: These Nominees Could Shift the Oscar Race

From "Everything Everywhere All at Once" to "Women Talking," SAG wins could change the direction of several key Oscar races.

The Fabelmans

“The Fabelmans”

Universal Pictures

This year’s SAG awards nominees, announced on January 11, will provide much-needed clues for where some 1,350 Academy actors may head during the subsequent Oscar nominations voting (which takes place January 12-17).

This year, with a muddled Best Picture race, eyes are on SAG to reveal how the biggest Oscar branch may be leaning. Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” (Universal) is widely considered the BP frontrunner, as a mainstream and emotionally accessible movie that celebrates the origin story of a beloved filmmaker.

Still, it’s far from a sure thing; last week “The Fabelmans” missed Director, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Editing, and Score on the BAFTA long lists. But Michelle Williams, one of four actresses to nab the trifecta of Globe, Critics Choice, and BAFTA longlist nods (along with Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis, and Michelle Yeoh) is good to go for Best Actress, with Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch vying for supporting slots.

Daniels’ chaotic actin comedy “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” a $100-million global hit from A24, is a strong rival with passion behind it. Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan have both been racking up nominations and wins, and both veteran Jamie Lee Curtis and breakout Stephanie Hsu are vying for Supporting Actress slots.

Also playing well for mainstream crowds is Baz Luhrmann’s musical blockbuster “Elvis” (Warner Bros., $252 million worldwide), which turned hard-working chameleon Austin Butler into a star overnight. If Oscar contenders “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Elvis” were to land an Ensemble nomination, that would give them needed momentum for the Best Picture race. If Golden Globe and BAFTA nominee Tom Cruise were to wind up in Best Actor along with the expected other candidates that would show strength for that film.

THE WOMAN KING, from left: Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, 2022. © TriStar Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

“The Woman King”

©TriStar Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Similarly, Davis’ popularity with this group could bring box-office hit “The Woman King” (Sony, $94 million worldwide) into the Ensemble tent — and provide a boost for Best Picture contention for this action epic. Davis’ extraordinary transformation into action star should make the cut as well. The SAG nominating committee could also vote in Angela Bassett for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” not only for her titanic performance as regal leader and grieving mother, but for her entire career.

Also vying for a spot as a high-wire juggling act is Rian Johnson’s Netflix smash “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” whose popular success relies on its stellar cast, led by Daniel Craig and Janelle Monae. A SAG nomination for her will go a long way toward pushing her into Oscar contention for Best Supporting Actress.

GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY, (aka KNIVES OUT 2), Janelle Monae, 2022. ph: John Wilson /© Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”

©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

On the specialty side, Martin McDonagh’s dark relationship comedy “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight), with 8 Globe and 9 Critics Choice nominations, will surely land SAG acting slots for lead actor Colin Farrell and supporting players Kerry Condon and Brendan Gleeson (and possibly Barry Keoghan), but will the critics’ favorite, which scored 14 BAFTA nods, squeeze into Best Cast?

Todd Field’s “TAR” (Focus Features) should yield a Best Actress slot for Oscar frontrunner and National Society of Film Critics winner Blanchett, pushing her toward a third possible Oscar win. And “Women Talking” (United Artists Releasing), Sarah Polley’s mighty assemblage of top actresses, could make the grade for sheer degree of difficulty; both Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy could score supporting nods.

“The Whale” star Brendan Fraser, who movingly plays a morbidly obese man in the last days of his life, not only has the benefit of the transformational hair and makeup advantage — see SAG and Oscar winners Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour” — but he boasts a powerful comeback narrative. That’s a mighty combo for SAG voters.

And beloved British actor Bill Nighy who, along with Butler, Fraser, and Farrell has landed on the Globes, Critics Choice and BAFTA longlist, is a sure thing for his poignant performance as a man who changes his life when faced with a terminal diagnosis in “Living” (Sony Pictures Classics).

“CODA”

Over the years, the SAG Awards and the Oscars don’t always sync up. They did in 2020, when the Academy rubber stamped popular SAG Ensemble winner “Parasite,” along with all four SAG acting winners — Renée Zellweger (“Judy”), Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”), Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”), and Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”).

Similarly last year, SAG winners Will Smith (“King Richard”), Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”), Troy Kotsur (“CODA”), and Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) all repeated on Oscar night, along with heart-tugging deaf family drama “CODA” (AppleTV+), which won Cast in a Motion Picture and moved into Oscar voting with a surge of forward momentum, overtaking its Best Picture rival, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix).

Jane Campion’s brainy western noir boasted 12 Oscar nominations, but did not score the SAG Ensemble nomination that often comes before a Best Picture win. Tellingly, the hardboiled drama won none of its three SAG actor categories. And Campion went on to win the film’s only Oscar, for Best Director.

Not scoring an Ensemble nod isn’t always the death knell for a Best Picture contender (the notable exception is Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” which won the Best Picture Oscar in 2018 without an Ensemble nomination from SAG). But SAG Ensemble Award winners can be Oscar-race bellwethers: see Best Picture winners “Shakespeare in Love,” “Crash,” and “Spotlight.”

In 2021, both of the SAG lead acting winners, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” costars Chadwick Boseman and Davis, failed to repeat at the Oscars, even with Boseman in his last performance. SAG Supporting Actor winner Daniel Kaluuya did go on to win the Oscar. While Frances McDormand, without claiming her third SAG Award, won the Best Actress Oscar for “Nomadland,” which also won Best Picture over that year’s SAG Ensemble winner, Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which scored six Oscar nominations and no wins.

For SAG nominations, the 4,200 members of the TV and film nominating committees make the calls. They tend to be more mainstream than the 9500 eligible Academy voters. Besides film and TV, SAG/AFTRA includes performers from theater, commercials, interactive, audiobooks, and new media, as well as influencers. In 2021, it made sense that they’d favor a Marvel movie star like Boseman and a hugely popular TV star like Davis over eventual Best Actor Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins, star of prestige film “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics), and McDormand for indie hit “Nomadland” (Searchlight).

See you January 11! Nominations predictions are listed in alphabetical order.

"Everything Everywhere All at Once"

“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Everett Collection

Cast in a Motion Picture

Predictions
“The Banshees of Inisherin”
“The Fabelmans”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”
“The Woman King”
“Women Talking”

 Spoilers: “Elvis,” “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” “Top Gun: Maverick”

The Whale, Brendan Fraser

“The Whale”

A24

Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture

Predictions
Austin Butler (“Elvis”)
Tom Cruise (“Top Gun: Maverick”)
Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”)
Bill Nighy (“Living”)

Spoilers: Hugh Jackman (“The Son”), Adam Sandler (“Hustle”)

TAR, Cate Blanchett, 2022. © Focus Features /Courtesy Everett Collection

Cate Blanchett in “TÁR”

©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture

Predictions:
Cate Blanchett (“TAR”)
Viola Davis (“The Woman King”)
Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”)
Michelle Williams (“The Fabelmans”)
Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)

Spoilers: Ana de Armas (“Blonde”), Olivia Colman (“Empire of Light”), Margot Robbie (“Babylon”)

THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, from left: Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, 2022. © Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

“The Banshees of Inisherin”

©Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy

Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Predictions:
Paul Dano (“The Fabelmans”)
Brendan Gleeson (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”)
Judd Hirsch (“The Fabelmans”)
Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)

Spoilers: Barry Keoghan (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Eddie Redmayne (“The Good Nurse”), Ben Whishaw (“Women Talking”)

Angela Bassett as Ramonda in Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Annette Brown. © 2022 MARVEL.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Annette Brown/Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Predictions:
Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”)
Jessie Buckley (“Women Talking”)
Hong Chau (“The Whale”)
Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Stephanie Hsu (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)

Spoilers: Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Claire Foy (“Women Talking”), Janelle Monae (“Glass Onion”)

RRR, (aka RISE ROAR REVOLT), from left: N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, 2022. © Raftar Creations /Courtesy Everett Collection

“RRR”

Raftar Creations / courtesy Everett Collection

Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

Predictions:
“The Batman”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”
“RRR”
“Top Gun: Maverick”

Spoilers: “Emancipation,” “The Woman King”

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