SAG Awards: Will it be 'The Artist' or 'The Help'? Meryl or Viola?

STREEP-DAVIS

Just like the Directors Guild Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards are a reliable indicator of which way the Academy may be leaning. Last year, eventual Best Picture winner The King’s Speech won the Best Cast prize, while all four acting winners have repeated at the Oscars the last two years. This year’s SAG Awards will be handed out on Sunday (watch the telecast on TBS or TNT at 8/7 p.m. Central). I’d say three of the five film categories are done deals while the other two are up in the air.

Best Cast
The Artist
Bridesmaids
The Descendants
The Help
Midnight in Paris

This is a two-way race between The Help, which scored the most SAG nominations this year, and The Artist, which remains the  overall awards-season front-runner. (Hugo, which earned the most Academy nods, was completely blanked by SAG.) If The Artist wins on Sunday, then it’s even more out in front for the Oscars next month. But my guess is that The Help, which is the better box-office success (and features actors who actually speak), will take it.

Best Actor
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants 
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

How can Clooney lose? If there’s an Artist sweep, Dujardin could benefit. But I don’t see it happening.

Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

After splitting the Critics Choice and Golden Globe awards, Davis and Streep go head-to-head yet again. Streep is a SAG favorite (she won for Doubt and HBO’s Angels in America) and could make it a hat trick. But my money is on Davis for a film that clearly has more overall support.

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Plummer told me earlier this week that he feels no guilt about sweeping the awards season so far. That’s good, because he’ll certainly have another opportunity to deliver a classy speech on Sunday.

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Barring a surprise upset by McCarthy, who seems to be gaining ground, this one is Spencer’s.

Check back on EW.com on Sunday, when I’ll be posting the winners in real time.

Dave on Twitter: @davekarger

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