By Patrick Shanley
The SAG Awards are one of the great indicators of who may be looking at walking the stage at the Oscars to receive a statuette. In particular, SAG’s ensemble award has often been presented to casts that have later gone on to receive nominations, and wins, from the Academy.
This year there are a number of films with star-studded casts who look to make the SAG voters task difficult. Possible best picture contenders Spotlight, The Big Short, Joy, and The Martian all boast stellar casts featuring Oscar winners.
Spotlight, which many theorists have as their best picture frontrunner at the moment, was just awarded the best ensemble prize at the Gotham Awards. The film features Oscar nominees Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci, and last year’s best actor nominee Michael Keaton. Keaton’s close loss to Eddie Redmayne last year may prompt the Academy to show him some extra love this season.
Director Adam McKay also has a slew of Oscar-nominated actors in his drama about the housing bubble collapse of the early 2000’s, The Big Short. Steve Carell, who last year earned a best actor nom for Foxcatcher, Christian Bale, who won an Oscar for best supporting actor in 2010’s The Fighter, Brad Pitt, a three time Oscar nom (best actor in Moneyball (2011), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), best supporting actor in Twelve Monkeys (1995), Ryan Gosling, nominated for best actor in 2006’s Half Nelson, and Marisa Tomei, best supporting actress in 1992’s My Cousin Vinny, all appear in the film.
In 2014, director David O. Russell‘s crime drama American Hustle won the best cast award from SAG voters. The stars of the film went on to receive nominations from the Academy in every major acting category, with best supporting noms for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and best actor noms for Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Though nominated for 10 total Oscars, the film went home empty-handed.
In this year’s Joy, Russell is once again teaming up with Cooper and Lawrence, as well as Robert De Niro, who joined the trio in 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook for which he received an Oscar nom for best supporting actor. That film was also nominated for a best cast award by SAG voters but lost out to 2013’s best picture winner, Argo.
Affleck’s friend and fellow Oscar winner, Matt Damon, heads the cast of another potential ensemble winner this year: The Martian. In addition to Damon, who has been nominated twice in acting categories (best actor in 1997’s Good Will Hunting, best supporting actor in 2009’s Invictus), the cast also features Jessica Chastain, nominated for best actress in 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty and best supporting actress in 2011’s The Help, and best supporting actor nom (in 2013’s 12 Years a Slave) Chiwetel Ejiofor. Chastain was a member of the 2012 SAG Award’s best cast in The Help. Her costar Octavia Spencer took home the best supporting actress Oscar that year.
Other notable films with ensemble cast potential are Steve Jobs, which stars Oscar nominated actor Michael Fassbender and Oscar winner Kate Winslet, as well as crime thriller Black Mass, starring Oscar noms Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch, and Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight, featuring Oscar noms Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Dern.
The SAG Award ballot nominations will be mailed out on Nov. 18.
This article, SAG Awards Best Ensemble Helps Predict Oscar Winners, first appeared on ScottFeinberg.com.