After January 27’s Screen Actors Guild Awards were handed out, there were a few certainties likely set in stone for Hollywood’s biggest night to come. That ceremony only hands out five trophies for the best in film acting, voted on by the entire collective of the famed actors’ union. With the 85th Academy Awards now looming on February 24, the overall race for Best Picture may be a bit closer – even as the SAG’s top choice for ensemble may have a critical factor going against them.
The Ben Affleck ensemble thriller Argo scored the award for Outstanding Cast in a Feature Film, continuing its surprise run of awards support. Even though this could help their chances for the Best Picture prize later on, the film still has one hurdle it may not be able to overcome. Affleck is nowhere on the shortlist for Best Director, and usually a Best Picture candidate’s odds of winning Oscar’s top prize are better when their respective filmmaker is nominated themselves. Yet considering its surprise wins at the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe and now SAG Awards, Argo is slowly rising to be the most serious contender to Steven Spielberg’s Oscar nod-leading epic Lincoln.
As for Spielberg’s movie, it did net two SAG Awards at the ceremony. Daniel Day-Lewis was the expected pick for Outstanding Male Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of the 16th President, and is a certain lock to win his third Best Actor Oscar. Tommy Lee Jones won the Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role award for his performance as Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. Yet unlike Lincoln‘s leading man, Jones’ lock on a second Oscar prize isn’t sealed – though the odds did pick up with a SAG victory. He may still have to contend with another multiple prize winner in The Master‘s Philip Seymour Hoffman for the Supporting Actor prize.
Another Oscar lock to be certain after the SAG Awards was Anne Hathaway, whose powerful portrayal of the doomed factory girl Fantine in Les Miserables brought home another prize for the actress. She swept the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globes, and seems now to be headed for Oscar gold. While Lincoln‘s Sally Field has the most-nominated film backing her up and may be viewed as a sentimental favorite (especially since she hasn’t been nominated or won an Oscar in nearly 30 years), it may not be enough to stop Hathaway’s dream ride of success.
Yet the most intriguing Oscar story could very well be Best Actress, which can be best described as an “anything goes” race. With the Golden Globes awarding their honors to Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), it was largely seen as a two-woman race – with the SAG winner having the edge. It was Lawrence who would get that needed boost, as she would take home the Female Actor in a Leading Role prize. Also helping her chances is Silver Linings‘ rise at the box office, while the political controversy over Zero Dark Thirty has stifled that film a bit. Lawrence has become one of Hollywood’s “it” girls over the last year, with Silver Linings and the blockbuster The Hunger Games – and it may be rewarded with Oscar gold.
With the Oscars a month away, the overall picture of that ceremony is becoming a bit clearer – but not all the way. While Day-Lewis and Hathaway will likely have smooth rides to their respective prizes, two acting categories may still be up for grabs. Lawrence has the advantage for Best Actress, but Chastain could still upset. Jones may have momentum for Supporting Actor, but Hoffman is not to be dismissed. Then there’s Argo – while its director was snubbed, the film keeps riding an undeniable wave of success and momentum for the Best Picture prize. Its cast sealed the deal with a win, but will it be enough to topple Lincoln and shock Oscar night with a victory for the ceremony’s biggest prize of them all?