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« 44 days til Oscar nominations.Screenplay stats!| Main| European Film Awards - Much Love to "The Square"»
Saturday
Dec 09 2017

SAG Predictions: Outstanding Ensemble

by Nathaniel R

The SAG nominating committe has to turn in their ballots tomorrow (Sunday,December 10th) and we're naturally very curious as to how their votes turned out.We'll find out this coming Wednesday.The bulk of the nominees are usually the obvious set who are carrying a ton of buzz.But that's just the bulk.SAG has been known to throw at least one total wildcard into the mix (remember Naomi Watts forSt Vincent,2014,or Sarah Silverman inI Smile Back,2015,orHustle & Flowfor ensemble in 2005?).

Let's take a look at the truly competitive Outstanding Ensemble category...

The Screen Actors Guild has a lot to choose from but will they choose well,and what does choosing well actually entail?To my way of thinking Ensemble prizes should go to movies wherein a somewhat large cast interacts a lot and who all feel like they're in the same movie tonally (unless,for narrative or stylistic reasons one should stand out).But most people seem to view ensemble in more generic terms like "big cast!"as the sole requirement or "cast chemistry"as another entirely subjective most important factor.And there are exceptions to every rule.I dont tend to think of films with 4 people as Ensemble films but likeWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolfis the definition of ensemble brilliance (the key difference perhaps being that the whole cast is interacting frequently as opposed to exchanging focus)

Before we begin predicting we should note that Oscar's Best Picture category and SAG's Outstanding Ensemble prizes are nottechnicallycorrelative,as much as the media wants them to be.The quality of an overall movie and the quality of ensemble acting within it are two very different things.While a great cast never hurts a movie you don't need an "ensemble"in the traditional sense to make a quality movie;plenty of great movies have teensy-tiny casts or survive a cast that aren't all firing at the same level.Last year people bizarrely thought that SAG voters didnt likeLa La Land,due to its miss in the ensemble category but it was,in essence,a duet film.Duets are not ensembles.I would even argue that trios are not ensembles (sorryCall Me By Your Name).Better to just nominate the individuals and leave it at that.It's beyond silly when they give a nomination for Ensemble to something likeMillion Dollar Babyand then also nominate each player individually.

Let's look at the possible nominees this year...

BIG CASTS


Dunkirk(Dark Horse)
Mudbound(Probable)
The Post(Lock)

These three are all true "ensemble pictures"in that no character truly owns the movie even if one or two are often foregrounded.The entire casts here are the key to each film's success.Mudboundhas already won ensemble prizes and feels like a safe bet with SAG due to its generous spread-the-wealth scene structure.The Postisn't as generous to its various players in that they dont each get their own narrative or point of view.The fame level of its ensemble should still make it a slam dunk here,though,even if many of the stars are basically doing glorified cameos (like Sarah Paulson as Tom Hanks's wife).Dunkirkhas some big names in the cast (like Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh) and itmightshow up but our suspicion is that the emphasis on the less famous actors in the main storyline on the beach will be a hurdle for big-star-loving SAG voters.

BEST PICTURE HEAT = ENSEMBLE HEAT


Darkest Hour (Dark Horse)
Lady Bird (Maybe)
Get Out (Dark Horse)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (Maybe)
Shape of Water (Maybe)

Here's where it gets REALLY tricky.IfMudboundandThe Postare in -- and most people think they will be -- there are only three more spots so all of the Best Picture hopefuls with a large cast with a clear shot at this can't make it in.ThoughDarkest Hourfeatures a ton of strong actors in roles of various sizes its not-so-stealth function as a giant FYC ad for Gary Oldman's Best Actor nomination might well sink it here.On the other hand SAG does like big British casts (see theirDownton Abbeyobsession).The strength of the lead player might also be a problem forThree Billboardsbut on the other hand it's a large enough group of well liked actors that maybe the the focus on McDormand won't be trouble?

Lady Bird is in a possibly similar bind.Everyone agrees that Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are spectacular but they'll get their own individual nominations.Will SAG voters be discerning enough to see how rich and deep this film's bench of supporting players go?It's tough to know but I fear it might be the "most deserving that's left out"film when they announced the SAG prizes.Get Out's hindrance might be its genre as actors are,for reasons we've never been able to fathom,less enthralled with performances that have to meet the very specific tone of distinct genres (beyond drama and comedy).But love for the movie could still help that wonderful cast get into the mix.The Shape of Wateris probably the best bit here.While it is also a genre film and its key players are likely to get their own individual nominations,every actor is relatively famous and it's actorly in some key ways (colorful and meaty character types)

THE WILD CARDS (all dark horses)

Battle of the Sexes
Call Me By Your Name
Detroit
The Florida Project
I,Tonya
The Big Sick

None of those six films have stopped campaigning though two of them seem to have vanished in the precursor awards (though it's not unlike SAG to throw a huge curveball).HadBattle of the Sexesbeen a bigger hit it would surely be a threat for this prize given a name cast and lots of fun little parts.The Florida Projecthas the "total unknowns"problem with (most) of its cast despite the film's richness.The Big Sickwould be an interesting (and I don't think impossible) nominee though it seems destined for less high profile nominations.Call Me By Your Nameobviously doesn't need an ensemble nomination given its super tight focus on 2 people (3 if you're feeling generous) but if it manages one we'll all know that it's a very formidable threat for Best Picture.Of these six I thinkI Tonyais actually most likely to rock SAG's boat because one of the arguable tricks of getting a ensemble nomination is being a film that actors WISH they had been in because it looks like so much fun.

MAINSTREAM HITS (extreme long shots)

Baby Driver
Girls Trip
Murder on the Orient Express
Wonder Woman

Blockbusters rarely compete here but in their own particular ways none of these films would be a terrible option for an ensemble prize OR terribly shocking had the reviews been a little better (Murder) given either the quality of the chemistry among the cast members or the names involved or some clearly defined fun performances.Some time ago we might have said thatBaby Driverwas most likely as a shocker option but nobody in Hollywood will be in the mood to throw a nomination Kevin Spacey's way this winter.

PREDICTION
(in order of confidence)


The Post
Mudbound
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards
Lady Bird

alternates:
Get Out
I Tonya

Which five doyouthink will make it?

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References (3)

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Reader Comments (52)

Call Me by Your Name
Dunkirk
Get Out
Mudbound
The Post
Alt: Lady Bird
Why the hell not: Stronger

December 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBillyBob

I'm not hearing much at all for "Mudbound"in the Internet buzz.I think this is where "Get Out"will get nominated,but miss in all of the individual nominations.

December 9,2017 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

If CMBYN misses an Ensemble nomination it can't win Best Picture.Only film to do so was Braveheart in all SAG history.

December 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBillyBob

I think Girls Trip makes it.Or st least Tiffany Haddish gets a nod.Right now,I'm thinking both?

December 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

No mention of Phantom Thread.

December 9,2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

The Big Sick
Call Me By Your Name
Get Out
Lady Bird
Three Billboards Over Ebbing,Missouri


...possibly even Girls Trip.I think The Post's last minute release will hurt it.Although Streep will be nominated whether people have seen the film or not.

December 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterEric

The Shape of Water
Get Out
Lady Bird

I'd guess those 3.I don't know what other ones they'd pick.For ensemble,the other choices don't move me.Either I haven't seen them yet,or I only liked part of the cast.

Movies this year where I was interested in each character as they came along,and kept thinking,what a great job of casting were: "Blade Runner","Logan","Their Finest".

December 9,2017 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Call Me By Your Name
The Florida Project
Get Out
Lady Bird
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

December 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterHarmodio

Though here the big question is: Which actors and actresses of ensemble cast nominated will not be included due to the rules on the credits?
For example: From what I remember when I saw the credits,if Dunkirk is nominated,the actors that will be nominated are Fionn Whitehead,Harry Styles,Kenneth Branagh,Cillian Murphy,Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.
Due to the rules would be excluded Jack Lowden,Aneurin Barnard,Barry Keoghan,James D'Arcy,Tom Glynn-Carney.

December 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterHarmodio

I didn't believe that anyone in Three Billboards' cast had been anywhere near Missouri,and forget tonal consistency.Let's hope someone else scores instead.

December 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBD

It's such a pity we're not talking about Wonder Wheel here.

December 9,2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Call Me By Your Name
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
The Post

December 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Nat I think you're under-selling the actresses in CMBYN - Esther Garrel and Amira Casar both have wonderful moments in the film and I've heard a lot of people single them both out for love.This will be their only chance at anything - I hope it makes it just for them!

December 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Call Me By Your Name still stands a chance,especially with that Best Picture heat.Didn't they nominate The Theory of Everything as well?

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

The Big Sick
Dunkirk
Get Out
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing,Missouri

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobert J.

Your predicted five seems pretty likely,though I wouldn't be surprised if Get Out or Girl's Trip muscled their way in,nor would I be surprised if Mudbound or The Shape of Water were ignored.

In terms of crazy nominations that will never happen in a million years,I'd be elated to see something like The Beguiled or mother!nominated.Though I'm not even sure which cast members would actually be eligible for the nomination in either case.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

Sending a prayer that Three Billboards isn't nominated.

Also,I would be really surprised if Get Out isn't nominated!I think it will win!

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Post
The Shape of Water or Three Strident Billboards

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Chastain

"A Quiet Passion"...pretty please?

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Couple of things.You say "Last year people bizarrely thought that SAG voters didnt like La La Land,due to its miss in the ensemble category"which is true.And funnily enough,when some raised the point that no film had ever won BP without SAG,most (including me) reasoned why it hadn't gotten in and that it had nothing to worry about despite small teensy tiny casts making it in the past.It was probably the first foreshadow that the movie was not /as/ popular as perceived.Ultimately lacking the actors support probably allowed Moonlight to sneak past it.

ANYWAYS.
-Netflix gives SAG free memberships,so they always always do super well here (Beasts of No Nation?).I'm expecting their shows to do great as well,but for now I think Mudbound is in.And I think Mitchell and Blige also get in here.

-The Post is full of huge names and Spielberg.It's likely in.Then it gets tricky.

-I been thinking Get Out is our winner all year,if that is to happen it's getting in here.And I think it is.And it makes sense.It has a large enough cast and its a big audience hit that has had the time to build the reputation.SAG is also much more diverse than AMPAS.Watch out for Kaluuya as well,but don't think he makes it in here.Ultimately I think unless The Post takes off as a genuine potential BP threat,Get Out wins this.

-Unlike other movies,despite Metcalf/Ronan taking the spotlight I really disagree with your comment.I think the movie is widely acknowledged as an ensemble piece.The film being constructed as a set of short scenes really makes it easier to remember and notice all the character that make up Lady Bird's world.It's also came out and peaked precisely when voting happened.

-Maybe it's my own bias talking but how you describe Lady Bird is actually how I feel about Three Billboards.Which has actors around but so much more focus is put on Rockwell/McDormand that it feels like their show.It's my alternate but for now my call is that it misses.

-Lastly,given how spread the year is,I think the race will ultimately come down to 3 movies (get Out,The Post and one of Dunkirk,Shape of Water or -and what I think will be that third contender- CMBY).Both of the latter two films fit as having outstanding performances (all looking to get maybe even 3 individual noms) without being huge casts.Del Toro's movie could feel more like a genre movie,while CMBYN's indie credentials and critical adulation give it a big more credibility.So since I think it'll grow to be one of the top contenders,I think it sneaks in here,leaving out Shape of Water.While Shape of Water and Dunkirk will show up in Stunt,and will eventually battle it out for Director.

Ultimately between those 6.Would LOVE to see Girls Trip get a shutout,but given how BP heavy the field is already (I Tonya,The Big Sick and even Dunkirk could show up) I don't think it happens.I do think Haddish will continue her roll and show up here,getting increasingly close to that now very possible Oscar nod.

Also think one of the "consensus"five women (Hawkins,McDormand,Ronan,Streep,Robbie) gets left out for either Salma Hayek (who has a powerhouse campaign and is beloved) or Dench (actors adore her,arthouse hit movie).

PREDICTIONS:
Get Out,Lady Bird,The Post,Mudbound,Call Me By Your Name.
Sally Hawkins,Frances McDormand,Streep,Ronan and Judi Dench
Timothee Chalamet,DDL,Jake Gyllenhaal,Gary Oldman,
Hunter,Janney,Metcalf,Haddish,Blige
Mitchell,Rockwell,Dafoe,Hammer,Fishburne (Last Flag) or someone really random

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve_Man

The Post
Mudbound
Three Billboards
Lady Bird
Dunkirk.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I'm wondering if this crowded year will produce another tie (and therefore 6 nominees) for Ensemble like it did in 2004.I'm going with:

Call Me By Your Name
Get Out
Girls Trip
Lady Bird
Mudbound
The Post

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

BillyBob: Don't forget,up to three years ago,people used to say that no film without a Best Film Editing Oscar nomination could win Best Picture (as the last one to do so was Ordinary People in 1980)...and then Birdman did it.Anything can happen - even an unlikely thing.

I don't think I can predict five,but a few thoughts: I agree with Jason that Call Me By Your Name has a shot due to Esther Garrel and Amira Casar - and,indeed,in my book Garrel could even be a dark-horse Supporting Actress Oscar nominee if they have noticed how excellent she is.And I do hope that Get Out gets in!The cast worked really well as an ensemble - the interactions were so icy and thereby so effective in pushing the film's themes.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong,but I don't remember everyone stopping predicting Gravity was going to win Best Picture after it didn't get a SAG Ensemble nom?Obviously it wouldn't as it had no ensemble (and it still didn't win,proving the point),but it's more about the discourse.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I think it's a compelling stat for that very reason.Gravity,La La Land.These films didn't win Best Picture,and upheld the stat.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBillyBob

BillyBob: Sure - they upheld the stat.But it's just a stat - it's not an inevitability.Remember,this this decade alone,we've seen a film win Best Picture without a Directing nomination for only the fourth time in Oscar history,a film win Best Picture without a Film Editing nomination for the first time since 1980,and a film win Best Picture and just one other Oscar for the first time since 1952.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Yes,of course,of course.But sometimes it pays to consider them.Everybody spent all of last year saying La La Land was going to win the Oscar and break the stat,and look what happened.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBillyBob

BEST ENSEMBLE

DUNKIRK
MUDBOUND
GET OUT
THE POST
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

I know!But I saw MOTOE yesterday and the ensemble is oustanding!The chemistry between then was amazing!

If not MOTOE

LADY BIRD or THE SHAPE OF WATER

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I think Get Out is a likely nominee (and the rest of my predix would include The Post,Mudbound,Lady Bird,and Shape of Water),but it sucks that neither Lil Rey Howery or Betty Gabriel would be included in the Ensemble nom.I love the SAGs,but look forward to Nathaniel's annual post of who doesn't get included as part of the ensemble to highlight how stupid the Title Card Rule is.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterCineMatt

looking forward to analysis of this year's title card injustices.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Dunkirk
Call Me By Your Name
The Post
The Shape of Water
Lady Bird

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

Get Out
Lady Bird
Mudbound
The Post
Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing,Missouri

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Brad -- you know I always come thru :)

December 10,2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

It is such a shame that Stronger isn't,ahem,stronger.What a great cast all working together.Miranda Richardson really disappeared into her role.Hope Hollywood casts her more as she enters her 7th decade.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Lewis

How is no one talking about the kids from IT?????They were amazing

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Call Me By Your Name
Mudbound
The Post
The Shape of Water
Murder on the Orient Express

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Lewis

I gots THE POST,LADY BIRD,CALL ME BY YOUR NAME,MUDBOUND and THREE BILLBOARDS,in that order,with GET OUT,THE SHAPE OF WATER and DUNKIRK lurking around the corner.

Of course,watch them nominate MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

December 10,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

The Post
Mudbound
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water

At the last minute I took out The Big Sick and put in LB.

How much interacting is there really among the cast in MOTOE?

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