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Friday
Nov302012

SAG Award for Best Cast: Predictions & Wish List

Amir here, to write about one of my favourite awards of the season: the SAG award for "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture". I say "favourite" because, in principle, I love the notion of awarding actors who work together as a group to make a film tick. In my ideal world, the best cast award is more about collective achievements than multiple individual ones but over the years, SAG’s top award has sadly become synonymous with Best Picture. Genuine ensemble pieces have often been ignored in favour of Oscar’s best picture frontrunners or films with the highest number of nominees in other SAG categories. Yet, despite my disappointment, I can’t stop obsessing over this award or detach myself.

Who will follow the cast of The Help to a SAG cast win?

This year is bound to be a similar affair, with the three frontrunning Oscar films all poised to win SAG nods in this category. Nonetheless, let’s look at what will get nominated and what should

Les Misérables
I have yet to see Les Misérables, but the rapturous response from this week’s screenings (Nathaniel was at the first one) suggests that we will collectively forgive Hooper for stealing The Social Network’s thunder once we finally lay eyes on his newest film. (Though, I'll still begrudge The King’s Speech for winning the SAG "cast" award two years ago. Two great performances and one default “supporting wife” nominee don't merit a best cast prize, especially in the presence of The Kids Are Alright and The Fighter.)

More hopefuls after the jump...

Les Miz has, by most reports, powerful and emotional performances. Another good sign for the SAG Cast prize: different critics have singled out different performers for second-best in show laurels (Hathaway ruling all).

Lincoln
Spielberg’s film is full to the brim with respected character actors who all do great work with their small roles, plus a central performance that is easily one of the year's best. It is guaranteed three nominations in the individual categories, so I’ll be really surprised if it misses the cut for ensemble. On a side note, Spielberg’s film also has the most potential for those inexplicable ensemble snubs we all hate -- Let's get this straight: Gwen Stefani was in The Aviator but Rooney Mara wasn’t in The Social Network??? –- so expect grumbling about __________ missing the cut while the rest of the cast suit up for the ceremony.

Argo
Ben Affleck's 100 million hit is arguably the only one of the three with the slightest chance of drawing blank when the nominees are announced, if only because it will score at most one nomination in other categories. That doesn’t necessarily hurt its chances. Midnight in Paris didn’t get individual nods but made it here just last year – but if SAG voters are in adventurous mood, who knows? I can hear you telling me to (Ar)go fuck myself because SAG voters are never in an adventurous mood. You’re right. That’s a faulty logic. They haven't been adventurous since Hustle & Flow so mark this down as the third lock.

Second Tier Possibilities
If we assume that multiple mentions in the individual categories can help a film get nominated for best cast – in most years that’s a safe assumption – then two films here have a great shot. Silver Linings Playbook, like Russell’s last film, is as much an actors’ piece as it is a director’s one. Lawrence is the presumed best actress frontrunner and De Niro and Cooper will surely have some support in their races. SAG is also more receptive of “lighter” films than the Academy so the “typical romantic comedy” caveat which has stopped some pundits from taking Playbook seriously as an Oscar player doesn’t come into play here. The Master is a much tougher sit, which can potentially hurt it with the SAG crowd, though if any guild is going to support Anderson’s enigma (beyond the directors) wouldn't it be the actors? I suspect the voters are going to view the film as a pas de deux between the leads -- the same reason Nathaniel suspects Amy Adams will be left on the outside looking in of the suppporting actress list -- and consider the individual nominations rewarding enough. If that be the case, Django Unchained could be the best bet for the fifth spot, despite its very late screenings. Tarantino’s films always feature dependably strong performances and this ensemble includes four previous SAG nominees. Inglourious Basterds won this award three years ago.

Long Shots
There seems to be a lot of love for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in the industry but since I can’t muster up the enthusiasm to see this film, I’m going to assume enough SAG voters will feel the same and ignore it. Foolish of me? Nathaniel was just talking about Quartet, an unexpectedly low-profile film that could have easily been a contender for this prize if it was promoted differently. The Sessions could potentially be a threat, but none of its smaller characters are given enough depth to require much from the actors. Hopkins and company are clearly having a lot of fun with their characters in Hitchcock, but ‘fun’ seems to be the key word here and that’s not always an advantage. Zero Dark Thirty could be the real spoiler, but word from early screenings suggests that it’s a director’s piece more than anything. Besides, consensus has formed on Chastain as the best in show, and she'll probably be the film’s only SAG nod. 


Wish List
My real wish list often contains films that are probably so far off SAG’s radar it’s laughable to have high hopes for them, like last year’s A Separation, or In the Loop before that. I'd love to see Magic Mike nominated but that’ll happen when pigs fly...in thongs. (I promise to be happy just to see Matthew McConaughey show up in the best supporting actor shortlist.)

Slightly more probable but equally satisfying would be a nod for Wes Anderson’s new whimsical gem, so I’ll settle for that as my most realistic wish. Moonrise Kingdom got a major boost from the Indie Spirit nominations but is going to have a steep hill to climb if it’s going to compete for Oscar glory. Anderson brings together an eclectic cast featuring his regulars and some new faces that one might not expect to see in his work. They fit together perfectly. Add the two wondrous newcomers as Sam and Suzy and the result is one of the few true ensembles and most impressive collective performances of the year. A nomination here wouldn’t just be well deserved but would indicate that Moonrise Kingdom enjoys broad enough support to make a small dent in the Oscar race, too.

SAG VOTING: In Progress. Ballots are due by December 10th
SAG NOMINATIONS: Wednesday, December 12th
SAG AWARD CEREMONY: Sunday, January 27th

Which films are you wishing for in the Ensemble category? And if there's a surprise like The Station Agent or Hustle & Flow in years (long) past, which film do you think it'll be?

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Reader Comments (37)

I'm hoping for a surprise nod for Cloud Atlas. That, to me, was true ensemble work.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonny

Before the Indie Spirits shut-out, I would have said maybe "Perks of Being a Wallflower" would turn up for something like this.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDS

I think it's a boon to this category that 4 out of the 5 presumed Oscar best picture frontrunners (Argo, Lincoln, Les Miz and SLP) are such giant ensembles . Since they so typically want to ape the Oscar best picture lineup, at least this year there's unlikely to be a King's Speech or Slumdog.
(SAG won't nominate Life of Pi, right?)

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I also love the catgory although they never got it right.

My choice would be Polisse. A superb cast of French actors.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I know I should learn from yesteryears, but I am praying for The Avengers.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNikhat

You trash "The King's Speech" and praise "Lincoln" ? Both films have essentially three characters which the story revolves around.

Also, what is up with the hate towards "Marigold Hotel" and Tom Hooper ? Are the films just not hip enough ?

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaMonDoo

LaMonDoo -- i can't speak for why Amir doesn't want to see Marigold or his Hooper hate but Kings Speech and Lincoln are VERY different films when it comes to the ensemble factor. Lincoln gives its huge teeming supporting cast a *lot* to do and they provide it with some of its best moments. I always forget other people besdies the central three were even in Kings Speech

November 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Top of my list: Les Miserables, but if Moonlight Kingdom walks off with the honors fine. As a total cast film it is almost perfect with each characterization adding to the whole. Low on the radar but wish it had more noise: Quartet.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Nikhat -- omg. imagine the mainstream media / infotainment frenzy if that were to happen.

November 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The Master nominated in ensemble is an excuse to get Laura Dern another SAG nomination. That's what I want.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Obviously SAG felt the need to award Timothy Spall for his brave portrayal of Winston Churchill in "The King's Speech."

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick McC.

LaMonDoo - Re: Marigold Hotel, I thought my tone would come off as humorous. I'm sorry if it doesn't, but I meant it that way. I'll eventually get to the film, and I have no hate for it since I haven't even seen it yet. I guess I'm just not in the target demographic.
As for Lincoln vs. The King's Speech, well Nat said it best. I can barely remember that someone like Derek Jacobi was in the latter, whereas in Lincoln, there are several characters that have as much to work with as Jones (whom I assume is the 3rd person in your central trio?) The King's Speech has not supporting character as meaty as Strathairn, Spader, or even Pace and Stuhlbarg.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

If Amour pulls two nominations, it could be a sleeper for Best Ensemble.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Ok, regading my last comment, I just thought of Guy Pierce, but that's exactly the problem I think. I couldn't even remember he was in it before looking up the cast list. That's not gonna happen with Lincoln.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

I've had a feeling for a long time now that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel would be nominated here. I'm predicting it will fill the fifth slot after the four presumed Best Picture frontrunners (Les Miz, Lincoln, Argo, Silver Linings).

Also, since SAG has thrown more curveballs in their history than people give them credit for, I'm going to do a sort of early no-guts-no-glory pick and say that Bryan Cranston gets nominated over Alan Arkin for Argo.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

If it's Ensemble rather than Best Picture, then I'd agree that Cloud Atlas might still have a chance. It has great actors appeal in casting women as leads, multi-ethnicities, actor challenges in portraying multiple roles, genders, ethnicities. Every actor can see themselves as capable of doing this, if given the chance.

I also loved the ensemble work of Moonrise Kingdom. The exquisite design and music and look of the picture all served the actors, who are the focus.

This year has so many great ensemble casts, including some very deserving forerunners.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteradri

My wish list:

"Argo"
"The Deep Blue Sea"
"Lincoln"
"Safety Not Guaranteed"
"Skyfall"

My prediction:

"Argo"
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
"Les Misérables"
"Lincoln"
"Silver Linings Playbook"

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Joseph- Deep Blue Sea is a very good call.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

My wish list:
Amour
Skyfall
The Impossible
Zero Dark Thirty
Magic Mike

My predictions:
Les Miserable
Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

While I'm not really a fan of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I wouldn't be too upset if it showed up here, because if nothing else the cast is delightful and makes the trip worth it. I see that film as nothing more than an excuse to spend some time with Dame Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton and Dame Maggie Smith among others and as such it succeeds. It's also why even though I'm not a big fan of the film, I wasn't upset with The Help winning last year. If nothing else, the cast did a superb job with the material they had (my choice would have been Bridesmaids, but whatever). As for this year, I haven't seen enough to really judge (I live in Mexico where most of these films won't be here for a while). I did see Argo and thought it was a fantastic ensemble piece and I would love it if Moonrise Kingdom showed up here as well (also a magnificent ensemble piece). A nomination for The Avengers would be awesome, that's another film I watch only to see these characters interact and as such it doesn't disappoint.

By the way, the glaring ommissions aren't that shocking anymore. They're egregious, but not shocking. Gwen Stefani got her own title card in The Aviator, Rooney Mara had to share one in The Social Network. Apparently to be considered part of the ensemble you need your own title card (unless you're the two leads, who can share a title card and still be considered part of the ensemble). Just so we're not shocked when certain people get ommitted. The rule is if you're better known, even if you're in the film for about 30 seconds, you're getting your own title card (again, don't agree with it, but seems to be the case).

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Les Miserables
Argo
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
The best exotic marigold hotel

but i'd be thrilled to see Moonrise Kingdom being nominated here

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereduardo

Doesn't Sissy look cute in the photo!

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHarry Canary

amir -- so agreed that Magic Mike and Moonrise Kingdom are worthy contenders here... though I fear the actors will be too stuffy / prestige driven to realize this when voting.

November 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

If I know my peers, they will definitely nominate the cast of SLP and since I will definitely not be voting for them, they stand an excellent chance of ultimately winning the award. It always turns out that way. But if I were on the Nominating Committee, my picks would be the casts of Lincoln, The Dark Knight Rises, Argo, The Sessions and Cloud Atlas. Only three of these have a real shot at being nominated.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

"The Perks of Being a Wallfower" and "Cloud Atlas" oughtta be here. Lerman, Miller, Watson, and Whitman alone in the former film are enough to warrant it a nomination in my opinion, and the latter film is just a sensational display of top actors stretching themselves beyond their limits in roles of incredible variation - Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, and more not only look like they're having a hell of a good time, but they're genuinely impressive and memorable performances.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

Cloud Atlas deserves more than it's going to get eventually. It is an incredible profound movie and the cast did a spectacular job here!
My picks would be:
Les Mis
Silver Linings Playbook
Lincoln
Cloud Atlas
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel B.

I would die of happiness of "Killer Joe" or "Friends with Kids" got ensemble nods, but that would never happen in a million years.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Haven't seen Lincoln or Les Miserables but my top cast ensembles of the year by now are:

1. Safety Not Guaranteed
2. Friends with Kids
3. Magic Mike
4. On the Road
5. Argo

I have a feeling that 2012 is gonna be a 2007 type of year at the SAGs

- Argo
- Les Miserables
- Lincoln

- Animal Kingdom
- Magic Mike
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

- Silver Lining Playbook
- The Avengers

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChecko

There is NO WAY Les Miz wont win this. They all sing, they all cry, they all suffer, they are prostitutes and former prisioners and dying mothers and revolutionaries and poor and outcasts and starving and they all die. When, almost all of them die.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

@Amanda I actually laughed out loud at your comment. So true.

For once I think my ensemble pick with make it to the SAG board. Silver Linings Playbook fits all their preferences. Audience friendly, likely Best Picture nominee, major commercial stars. Thank God I actually like it. But I'm pulling for Moonrise Kingdom too.

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTB

My biggest dream, and it's a big one, would be a nomination for the ensemble of 'Ginger & Rosa.' A collection of really wonderful actors doing great work, they all work beautifully against one another, the film's penultimate scene is an intense confrontation amongst all of them. Really, if the film had a higher profile that cast would stand a huge threat to win.

Overall,
1. Ginger & Rosa
2. Silver Linings Playbook
3. Friends with Kids
4. Moonrise Kingdom
5. Flight


Does anyone think 'Flight' could happen? I think it could, pretty high profile and there's strong work across the board. Really effective cast.

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

Sean - I don't see Flight happening. Yes, everyone's strong across the board, but it's totally viewed as Denzel's show.

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Amanda - LOLOLOLOLOL Ugh, so true. It'll be the Chicago 2002 Ensemble win redux - with added Miserablism. Oh, sorry... Misérables-ism.

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

wish list:

MAGIC MIKE
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
ON THE ROAD

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyanSt

I predict:

Les Mis
Argo
Lincoln
The Master
Silver Linings Playbook

I wished:

Les Mis
Argo
Moonrise Kingdom
Django Unchained
Cloud Atlas

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNika

my SAG Award for Best Cast wishlist:

* Argo
* Hitchcock
* Les Misérables
* Moonrise Kingdom
* Silver Linings Playbook

P.S.: I believe "Hitchcock" won't get it and the nod will likely go to "Lincoln", but it stills on my WISHlist

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarc

Perks of Being A Wallflower most definitely. Such a great ensemble. Mae Whitman letting the wine breathe is everything.

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill h

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