Statuesque: Will the SAG Awards Predict the Oscars?

Awards season always fills me with such anxiety. I worry that the films I deem worthy to win will lose to films that I completely dislike. Like other critics, I know that I’m right and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic). I’m so opinionated over this matter that I get really riled up about it. What has my blood boiling right now are the results of the 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards, which were announced on Sunday.

Do the SAG Awards accurately predict which actors and films will win Oscar gold? Not always, but the ceremony has been spot-on for the last few years. After all, many of the people voting for the SAG Awards also vote for the Academy Awards. It’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t vote the same way twice.

(Winners are highlighted in bold.)

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

‘The Artist’
‘The Descendants’
‘The Help’
‘Midnight in Paris’

At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I’m going to go ahead and state that I believe the only reason ‘The Help‘ is carrying any awards momentum is because the powers-that-be are afraid that they’ll be called racist if they don’t let it win. Let’s be honest, ‘The Help’ is hardly an original film. Story-wise and character-wise, it doesn’t do a single thing that we haven’t seen before. From the white girl who goes against the grain and helps oppressed minorities to a culinary masterpiece made with bodily ingredients, we’ve seen this movie before back when it was known as ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’. And, let’s be honest, ‘Friend Green Tomatoes’ did it a lot better.

‘The Help’ is film that has me worried more than anything. If this ends up being like the year that underdog ‘Crash‘ won the Best Picture Oscar, I’m going to lose all faith in the Academy. Any of the other nominated titles are much worthier than ‘The Help’, which shouldn’t have even made it into the nominations. As far as ensemble acting goes, ‘Carnage’ is a much better film.

Alas, this category doesn’t exist in the Academy Awards, so I probably shouldn’t get too riled up about it (except for the fact that ‘The Help’ is getting a lot of votes).

[Ed.: While the SAG Awards are purportedly focused solely on the acting quality of the nominated films, the “Performance by a Cast” award has always functioned as SAG’s equivalent to the “Best Picture” category, and usually goes to the movie that the voting members liked the most, regardless of the acting in it. -JZ]

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Damian Bichir, ‘A Better Life’
George Clooney, ‘The Descendants’
Leonardo DiCaprio, ‘J. Edgar’
Jean Dujardin, ‘The Artist’
Brad Pitt, ‘Moneyball’

Only one slot separates the SAG nominees from those of the Academy. Gary Oldman (‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’) will be fighting for Oscar gold instead of Leonardo DiCaprio. I suspect that since he didn’t even make the nominations here, Oldman will not be a frontrunner for the Oscar. Any of these actors is worthy of winning, but only one performance kept shouting “This is the Best Actor winner!” while I watched the film, and that was Jean Dujardin.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Glenn Close, ‘Albert Nobbs’
Viola Davis, ‘The Help’
Meryl Streep, ‘The Iron Lady’
Tilda Swinton, ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’
Michelle Williams, ‘My Week with Marilyn’

Again, only one slot separates the SAG and Academy nominees. Rooney Mara (‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’) earned an Oscar nomination while Tilda Swinton got one from SAG. Despite disliking ‘The Help’, Davis is indeed very good in it – but I still would have picked either Mara or Swinton over Davis. So long as bland Close and scenery-chomping Streep don’t win, I’ll be happy.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh, ‘My Week with Marilyn’
Armie Hammer, ‘J. Edgar’
Jonah Hill, ‘Moneyball’
Nick Nolte, ‘Warrior’
Christopher Plummer, ‘Beginners’

Once more, the SAG and Academy nominees are off by one. Oscar replaced Armie Hammer with Max von Sydow in ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’. Let’s be honest, Hammer’s cheesy and stereotypical “old man” performance felt more like something you’d see on ‘Saturday Night Live’ than a Clint Eastwood film. The other nominees are worthy, but the overall consensus leans toward Plummer.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Bérénice Bejo, ‘The Artist’
Jessica Chastain, ‘The Help’
Melissa McCarthy, ‘Bridesmaids’
Janet McTeer, ‘Albert Nobbs’
Octavia Spencer, ‘The Help’

All five nominees made the Academy list, but I argue that Jessica Chastain was nominated for the wrong role. Her performances in ‘The Tree of Life‘ and ‘Take Shelter‘ are better than ‘The Help’. McCarthy was funny, but Oscar-worthy? I don’t think so. McTeer isn’t anything special either. My vote for Bejo mirrors my opinion about Jean Dujardin.

If Specer wins the Oscar, I’m going to be up in arms. I think that Spencer is getting so much buzz for the same reason that NBC won’t stop pumping Betty White. People think it’s funny to see woman saying and doing things that are unladylike. Had Spencer not said “I shit in the pie” so many times, nobody would care about her performance at all.

All of these SAG wins are giving me an ulcer. Should ‘The Help’ walk away with multiple Oscars, I’m going to lose a lot of faith in the Academy voters. I don’t doubt that this will still happen, but there were so many better films and performances in 2011 that deserve the attention.


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