Though The Screen Actors Guild Awards have only existed for 19 years, the ceremony has quickly become one of the biggest awards shows of the season. SAG is the professional organization representing film and television actors. The prestigious awards event began in 1995 as a way for SAG members to honor the outstanding achievements of their colleagues in the previous year. While the awards are considered prestigious in themselves, the SAG Awards are also considered to be the single best predictor of the winners in the acting categories at the Academy Awards. Indeed, the four individual motion picture acting winners (Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo) at the 2011 SAG Awards went on to win their respective categories at that year’s Academy Awards as well. Three of the four 2012 SAG winners went on to win Academy Awards as well (the 2012 Best Actress SAG winner was Viola Davis while the respective Academy Award went to Meryl Streep). While the winners will not be known for certain until January 27, they can be speculated.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
The nominees for this award are Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, John Hawkes in The Sessions, Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables, and Denzel Washington in Flight. While most Hollywood experts say that this award (as well as the respective Oscar) will go to Daniel Day-Lewis for his calm yet powerful performance as Abraham Lincoln, there are only two other nominees who are seen as having a remote chance of winning: Jackman and Cooper. Jackman would would be the lesser surprise considering he has been a staple in Hollywood for years and his passionate interpretation of Jean Valjean is quite possibly the performance of his career. He also took home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, where he was in direct competition with Cooper (Day-Lewis won the separate Globe for Best Actor in a Drama). Cooper as the rehabilitating Pat Solitano is an unlikely but possible winning performance.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
The nominees are Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty, Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone, Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, Helen Mirren in Hitchcock, and Naomi Watts in The Impossible. Chastain is the favorite to win for her performance as May, the CIA agent instrumental in finding Usama Bin Laden. A nominee last year for Supporting Actress, she will most likely feel the love from her peers. The only hurdle in Chastain’s way is the controversy over her film’s torture scenes, in which case the only other possible winner is Jennifer Lawrence.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
The nominees are Alan Arkin in Argo, Javier Bardem in Skyfall, Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook, Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master, and Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. The presumed winner in this category is Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, but Bardem and De Niro could cause (albeit unlikely) upsets.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
The nominees are Sally Field in Lincoln, Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, Helen Hunt in The Sessions, Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy, and Maggie Smith in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. This is the clearest category: Anne Hathaway will take home the Actor. While she is onscreen for less than 30 minutes of the nearly 3 hour Les Miserables, she manages to take the audience on a journey of love, sacrifice, despair, and hope as the wretched Fantine. While Sally Field is moving as Mary Todd Lincoln, this award belongs Hathaway.
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The unique thing about the SAG Awards is that it not only honors individual performances but those by casts as a whole. This year’s nominated casts are Argo (featuring Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Kyle Chandler, and John Goodman among others), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (featuring Judi Dench, Dav Patel, Bill Nighy, and Maggie Smith among others), Les Miserables (featuring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Helena Bonham Carter among others), Lincoln (featuring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt among others), and Silver Linings Playbook (featuring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, and Chris Tucker among others). The assumed cast of winners is the cast of Les Miserables. This epic tale with a true ensemble of incredible characters is made what it is in large part to its incredible cast. The only other possible winners would be the cast of Lincoln.