No offense to the venerable Hollywood Film Awards, but awards season doesn’t actually heat up until Wednesday morning. That’s when the Screen Actors Guild will announce its nominations for the best film performances of the year.
This is a big week for Oscar hopefuls. On Wednesday -- at 6 a.m. Pacific, no less -- Ansel Elgort and Eva Longoria will name the SAG nominees, and 24 hours later come the Golden Globe noms. According to SAG, 2,200 of the guild’s 165,000 members were randomly selected to serve on the film nominating committee this year. So what can we expect from the group of actors? Here are five things to look out for.
1. “Birdman” will soar.
Filled with high-profile actors giving acclaimed performances, “Birdman” will likely come out the big winner Wednesday morning. The film stands a good chance of picking up the same four noms as 2013’s most popular SAG choice did: best ensemble, actor (Michael Keaton), supporting actor (Edward Norton) and supporting actress (Emma Stone). “12 Years a Slave,” of course, went on to win best picture at the Oscars -- but it remains to be seen if Alejandro Iñárritu’s film will have the same mainstream appeal come February.
2. The best actor race will come into focus.
For months, the same four names have been floated in conversations about the year’s best actor: Michael Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and Steve Carell. But who will score the fifth slot in the category? If it doesn’t go to David Oyelowo, the odds are on Bradley Cooper for his turn in “American Sniper” or British “Mr. Turner” star Timothy Spall.
3. “Selma” may get shut out.
Since its unveiling at a special screening at AFI Fest last month, Ava DuVernay’s Martin Luther King Jr. biopic has generated an outpouring of enthusiasm from critics. But the cut of the movie that some have seen was an unfinished one. In fact, DuVernay didn’t lock up the picture in time for distributor Paramount Pictures to send screeners of the Christmas release to SAG members. Translation? The movie may not have been seen by enough members to secure coveted noms -- like one for lead actor Oyelowo, who otherwise seems to be one of the season’s front-runners. Fans of the movie shouldn’t fear, however: Last year, Paramount was unable to send out “Wolf of Wall Street” screeners to SAG members, but that film still went on to earn five Academy Award nominations -- including one for star Leonardo DiCaprio.
4. All eyes on “Foxcatcher.”When Bennett Miller’s latest premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May, everyone assumed the film was headed for awards glory. A top director working with commercial stars in transformative roles? It seemed to check all the boxes. But since hitting the box office in mid-November, “Foxcatcher” has yet to break out there, and some voters may be hesitant to pop in the screener due to its dark themes. If the movie doesn’t have a big showing this week, its Oscar prospects probably aren’t that strong.
5. No love for Wes Anderson?
If any film was destined to earn a nomination for its strong ensemble, it would have seemed to be “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Wes Anderson is known for his huge, recognizable casts, and his latest film is no different, boasting appearances from Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson and more. But Anderson has never been a favorite among SAG voters. His “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Fantasic Mr. Fox” were both snubbed by the guild, even though they eventually received at least one Oscar nod apiece. Even though “Budapest” is a critical darling, the stylized acting that has become Anderson’s trademark may just not be for SAG voters.
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