SAG Awards could make history again this year with the film ensemble prize

Leslie Odom Jr., Aldis Hodge, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Eli Goree in "One Night in Miami."
Leslie Odom Jr., Aldis Hodge, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Eli Goree in “One Night in Miami.”
(Amazon Studios)

Last year’s SAG Awards both made history and foreshadowed history when “Parasite” became the first non-English-language film to win its film ensemble prize. Bong Joon Ho’s masterful thriller of course went on to win the Oscar for best picture, and you could make a case that the momentum for that victory began with the SAG ceremony when the audience gave the “Parasite” cast two standing ovations — the first coming just for being there.

Over history, the winner of SAG’s ensemble prize has, more often than not, failed to win the Oscar, and that could well be the case again this year. Critics favorite “Nomadland,” starring Frances McDormand as a woman finding community among wanderers after losing her job, features three real-life “nomads” among its five primary cast members, making it a long shot to earn a nomination from actors guild voters. And “Soul,” another of the year’s finest movies, comes from Pixar Animation, making it a non-starter with this group.

But first things first. Let’s take an early look at who stands to earn SAG Awards nominations ahead of the ceremony, recently rescheduled to April 4. Nominations will be announced Feb. 4.



“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
“One Night in Miami”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Da 5 Bloods”

Up next: “Minari,” “The Prom,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Sound of Metal,” “Judas and the Black Messiah”

This year has its own potential history-making story line as the predominantly Black casts of three films — “One Night in Miami,” “Da 5 Bloods” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — could be nominated, with a fourth movie, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” the upcoming historical drama about Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, in the running too. The sprawling, excellent ensemble in Aaron Sorkin’s legal procedural “The Trial of the Chicago 7” will also find a place here, leaving a diverse set of contenders battling for the final spot. If I had to choose, I’d have a hard time resisting the urge to bring the perfectly cast “Minari” actors together again, particularly if young Alan S. Kim agrees to show up wearing his cowboy hat and boots.

Carey Mulligan won the Los Angeles Film Critics’ best actress prize for “Promising Young Woman.”
(Focus Features)


Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”
Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”
Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”

Up next: Kate Winslet, “Ammonite”; Meryl Streep, “The Prom”; Amy Adams, “Hillbilly Elegy”; Michelle Pfeiffer, “French Exit”


McDormand and Davis burnish their legends with their latest films, and Mulligan has been faring well with critics groups for her high-wire turn in “Promising Young Woman.” I’d imagine Kirby earns a nod too, provided voters make it through the grueling first half hour of her film. Adams has picked up six individual SAG Awards nominations over her career; Streep, of course, has roughly the same number as there are stars in the sky. But “Hillbilly Elegy” and “The Prom” don’t rank high on their highlight reels, leaving an opening for Day’s dazzling work in Lee Daniels’ divisive movie or perhaps for Winslet or Pfeiffer.

Riz Ahmed plays a drummer coping with encroaching deafness in "Sound of Metal."
(Amazon Studios)


Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
Gary Oldman, “Mank”
Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods”
Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”

Up next: Tom Hanks, “News of the World”; Kingsley Ben-Adir, “One Night in Miami”; Steven Yeun, “Minari”;
Sacha Baron Cohen, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”; Ben Affleck, “The Way Back”; Lakeith Stanfield, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

The lead actor race is deeper than it has been in years. Recently, SAG Awards voters have stamped this category with an idiosyncratic touch, nominating the likes of Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”), Denzel Washington (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”) and, last year, Taron Egerton (“Rocketman”). If they wanted to go that route this year, there are any number of candidates deserving some traction, including Affleck’s career-best work in the redemption drama “The Way Back” and Cohen’s absurdist provocations in the “Borat” sequel.

Yuh-Jung Youn  plays an unpredictable grandmother in “Minari.”
Yuh-Jung Youn plays an unpredictable grandmother in “Minari.”


Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”
Olivia Colman, “The Father”
Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Ellen Burstyn, “Pieces of a Woman”

Up next: Candice Bergen, “Let Them All Talk”; Nicole Kidman, “The Prom”; Saoirse Ronan, “Ammonite”; Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”; Helena Zengel, “News of the World”

Bulgarian-born Bakalova was a revelation in “Borat,” racking up early awards from the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle. The Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. gave its supporting actress honor to Youn, a star in Korea making her American feature film debut. She’s unforgettable in “Minari,” playing an eccentric grandmother who can be childish one moment and profoundly wise the next. They’re the best of this year’s supporting actress class and merit plenty more honors moving forward.

Sacha Baron Cohen and Jeremy Strong in "The Trial of the Chicago 7."
(Niko Tavernise / Netflix)


Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami”
Chadwick Boseman, “Da 5 Bloods”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
Bill Murray, “On the Rocks”

Up next: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”; Mark Rylance, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”; Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”; David Strathairn, “Nomadland”; Charles Dance, “Mank”; Stanley Tucci, “Supernova”; Colman Domingo, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”; Glynn Turman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

If you were so inclined, you could fill out this category entirely with cast members of “Chicago 7.” You’d be ignoring some of the year’s best work — Odom’s deeply felt portrayal of Sam Cooke in “Miami” perhaps being the pinnacle — but they’re all great and may well participate in a virtual celebration if Sorkin’s film wins SAG’s ensemble prize. Fact is, this is a ridiculously deep group composed partly of members of movies likely to show up in that ensemble category and others, like Tucci in the poignant “Supernova,” looking for individual recognition. Odom and Cohen are the only locks.