Oscar Derby Update: Screen Actors Guild Awards

In which Idris Elba makes history, and the Oscar acting categories become a little more locked (with one exception)

The Screen Actors Guild awards were on Saturday, and it was Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight that took home Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (which is essentially the SAG equivalent of “Best Picture”).

On a happy historical note: Idris Elba made history by taking home two SAG trophies in a single night! In addition to an award for Beasts of No Nation, he also won Best Male Actor in Television Movie or Miniseries for Luther.

Beasts of No Nation was also in the running for Best Ensemble, along with The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, and Trumbo. Only one other of those four (The Big Short, to be specific) carries over with Spotlight as an Oscar nominee (as unfortunate/depressing as that is for Straight Outta Compton).

While the SAGs are not always the best indicator of Best Picture (50% success in past 20 years), the actors represent the largest voting pool in the Oscar race. 

So this is a significant win for Spotlight. It means that it is not going to go down quite so simply, and that even if it can’t ultimately pull off a Best Picture, it’s definitely going to be close and interesting this year. 

spotlight cast


Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

room brie larson

Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird (Carol)

Brie Larson as Ma (Room)

Helen Mirren as Maria Altman (Woman in Gold)

Saoirse Ronan as Eilis (Brooklyn)

Sarah Silverman as Laney Brooks (I Smile Back)

Reminder: neither Helen Mirren nor Sarah Silverman carry over into the Oscar list (Jennifer Lawrence and Charlotte Rampling occupy those spots instead). Not that it matters much, though. Brie Larson has been sweeping up everything (and rightfully so, by the way). She may as well be a lock at this point. If anyone knocks her off the top, it will be an enormous shock to me.


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

You may have noticed this is not a picture of DiCaprio. Taking inspiration from the immortal Margo Channing, I have put a picture of an Oscar here instead because I’m pretty sure a vision of this is what is in place of DiCaprio’s heart by now…

Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo (Trumbo)

Johnny Depp as James “Whitey” Bulger (Black Mass)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass (The Revenant)

Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs (Steve Jobs)

Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe (The Danish Girl)

This is the same as the Oscar list with the exception of Johnny Depp (Matt Damon is nominated instead). But again: it’s not like it matters much. DiCaprio has been untouchable in this race thus far. Not only does he want it so fucking much, but frankly no one else this year has turned in anything to give him a hard run for it. And the SAGs have a very very high success rate with correctly predicting Best Actor.


Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

alicia vikander

Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet (Carol)

Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer (Spotlight)

Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper (Trumbo)

Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener (The Danish Girl)

Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman (Steve Jobs

Again, this list is the same as the Academy’s except for one — Helen Mirren (with Jennifer Jason Leigh being the nominee in her stead, so to speak). Alicia Vikander is an intriguing (but highly pleasant!) selection, partially because it strikes as odd/unexpected for the Actors Guild to be forgoing Rooney Mara in this pack. However there is a chance they are awarding Vikander for dual work in Ex Machina and The Danish Girl. Whether or not this carries over to the Oscar remains to be seen. Although Winslet walked away with the Golden Globe, I have a difficult time foreseeing similar gold for her going forward. Fabulous Swedish ingenue Alicia Vikander is now a good bet (especially considering the dual roles involved), but there is a part of me that is still hesitant to count Rooney Mara out completely.


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role


Christian Bale as Michael Burry (The Big Short)

Idris Elba as Commandant (Beasts of No Nation)

Mark Rylance as Abel Rudolph (Bridge of Spies)

Michael Shannon as Rick Carver (99 Homes)

Jacob Tremblay as Jack (Room)


It’s worth noting/reminding that the only nominees here who are also nominated for the Oscar are Christian Bale and Mark Rylance. So while Idris Elba’s win is fan-fucking-tastic, it is sadly irrelevant in regards to helping predict the Oscar. The rest of the Academy’s group consists of Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), and Sylvester Stallone (Creed). Frankly, the chances of the aging white male Academy awarding Stallone is depressingly high. But then again… Best Supporting Actor, more than any other acting category, can get downright wacky. Could Hardy or Ruffalo sneak up out of nowhere? I DON’T KNOW ANYMORE!

Or hey! Here’s a random question: can we write in nominees? Why not Corey Hawkins for Straight Outta Compton, and oh I dunno… perhaps… say off the top of my head… Domhnall Gleeson? For the FOUR films he was in?


Next week (Saturday, February 6th) is the Directors Guild awards, and it is one I am especially interested in seeing how it plays out. 

Personally I want to believe that somehow George Miller can pull it out. Not only because of how much I crow the praises of the vision and execution of Fury Road, but because a Miller win would make the race as a whole even more interesting. Although for the record, a win for Tom McCarthy would also make me very happy, and would position Spotlight into better position for Best Picture. And if Iñárritu wins the DGA (again), then it’s looking more like a lock for him for Best Director for the second year in a row. 

So I will see you all again Monday, February 8th to break down those results!

Until then, keep watching movies!