SAG ballots go out today (and Globe and BFCA ballots in a week or two) so it's FYC season again. SAG's most unique categories are "Stunt Ensemble" -- may we adamantly remind them that the fight scenes in Captain America: Winter Soldier are better than the ones in Guardians of the Galaxy even if the latter film is more popular and beloved -- and the one we tend to obsess on "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture""
Unfortunately, the older the SAG Awards become the less adventurous their nominations. Rarely do we see the surprise Off-Best Picture nominee as in years past like Hustle & Flow or The Birdcage or what not. We'd love it if their randomly selected nominating committee were not thinking about the Oscars when they went a-balloting. We know, for example, that Boyhood, Selma, Theory of Everything, Birdman, Foxcatcher and The Imitation Game have an advantage do their strong assumed place in the Best Picture race but if you really think about it (which you always should if you have a ballot) are half of those movies all that impressive in terms of group acting? They're impressive in other ways, don't misunderstand. But you can nominate individual performers for prizes so why waste an ensemble spot on the same people!?
The Film Experience would like to make 3 suggestions off the expected path for those voting this year. These are films with impressive large ensembles that are very in sync with each other as well as the film's tone
For SAG's consideration...
• DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Jason Clarke does a fantastic atypically peaceful hero job leading the fine human cast but though they're at odds with the apes, their performances mesh extraordinarily well. Keep in mind that they were acting with people dressed up in funny performance capture suits. And the performances those suits captured are special, too!
• GONE GIRL
Though this one is focused on a marriage like the more likely nominee Theory of Everything, the supporting cast has a lot to do and many of them really pop from the TV hosts (Sela Ward & Missi Pyle) to all the family members (Carrie Coon), cops (Kim Dickens) and lawyers (Tyler Perry). SAG could and probably will do a lot worse than selecting this film.
A loveable underdog but in past years when they latched on to movies as small as The Station Agent, they knew how to throw an adorable indie curveball. And, like, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, this one basically has two opposing sets of actors, at odds, but mixing more superbly than you thought oil and water or, rather, coal miners and urban gays, ever could.
Films that derive their full strength from the symbiotic contributions or a large diverse talented cast list rather than an acting triump MVP or two (usually leads) ... aren't these the type of films that ought to be considered for "Outstanding Cast" honors?