Calls For Change In Hollywood At The SAG Awards

Until the SAG Awards were announced on Jan. 27, most film critics and industry insiders believed that they pretty much had figured out who and what would win the top five major Academy Awards: best picture, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.

Because several of the contenders for the Oscars were not nominated for SAGs (the demographics of the SAG membership are much different from those of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), the outcome of the SAGs may have done little to alter the Oscar results, which will be announced on Feb. 24.

For example, the Oscar front-runner for best picture, Roma, was not nominated for best ensemble of a motion picture, the SAG equivalent of best film. Most academy experts see A Star Is Born as the spoiler in that category, with Roma taking best foreign-language film.

However, with Black Panther winning SAG's ensemble award, its chances for capturing the best-picture Oscar have improved. It's not a sure thing, of course. Just last year, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won the SAG best-ensemble award, but The Shape of Water won the top Oscar.

If Roma were to win the best-picture and best foreign-language film Academy Awards, it would be the first time in history that any film has done so. Nine foreign-language films have been nominated for best picture, but none to date has won. However, Roma is a co-production of Mexico and the United States, and what a statement it would make if it captured the big prize at a time when the national conversation is all about putting up a barrier between the two countries.

It's just the kind of commentary Oscar voters have a history of embracing. That said, A Star Is Born, the fourth in a series of Hollywood remakes, just may prove iconic enough to slip through. Black Panther is still considered by many academy voters as merely a comic-book movie, although its shrewd celebration of black empowerment makes it much more than that.

When the British Academy of Film and Television Arts presents its awards in London on Sunday, things may come more clearly into focus, even if The Favourite is the favorite across the pond.

As for acting awards, it has become clear that Glenn Close cannot lose the best-actress race. She has won a Golden Globe and a SAG; she has been nominated for the Oscar seven times and never has won. The academy has a history of rewarding those who are, shall we say, due. Only a huge upset would deny her the award. For Close, the SAG sealed the deal. Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) keeps winning: a Golden Globe, a SAG. But I can't see him beating Christian Bale's audacious work in Vice. Most Oscar predictions have Malek in third place behind Bale and Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born). I say, don't count Malek out.

As for best supporting actor, Mahershala Ali of Green Book has momentum. The SAG erased any lingering doubt from what has become his impending Oscar victory. Regina King of If Beale Street Could Talk was not among the SAG nominees, thus it's a more difficult call.

Nevertheless, with Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz of The Favourite each diminishing the other's chance of winning, and Amy Adams (Vice) not having won any major film prizes this season, King's nuanced performance still feels unstoppable. And she has a Critic's Choice Award and Golden Globe on her mantel to make her case.

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