The film claimed the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble on Sunday, giving it yet another top prize as it heads into the Feb. 24 Oscars. The night before, it claimed the Producers Guild Award for Best Production.
The Oscar for Best Picture now looks like a sure-thing for Argo, which gained a massive influx of support throughout Hollywood after filmmaker Ben Affleck was snubbed for a directing nomination by the Academy.
Actors are the single biggest voting bloc in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, at roughly a fifth of the overall members. And although there is only slight crossover between the thousands of guild voters and the much narrower band of voters in the Oscars’ performer branch, a SAG win can add massive momentum to a performer’s Academy Awards campaign. Last year, George Clooney was regarded as the Best Actor frontrunner for The Descendants until The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin claimed the SAG honor — and went on to collect the Oscar.
There were no other major surprises among the film winners at the SAG Awards, and while many thought Silver Linings Playbook might take the ensemble award (including this awards season writer), Argo‘s win is the latest indicator that all competitors are falling away as the rescue drama roars toward Oscar night.
And of course, this flips the dynamic: Lincoln, which has a leading 12 nominations for the Oscars, is now the underdog, while Argo is the alpha-dog. We have another month for Academy voters to figure out whether amends have already been made for Affleck’s snub, or if it still galvanizes them to check off Argo on those final ballots.
The ensemble prize isn’t the best gauge of Oscar victory, with roughly a 50/50 accuracy over the years. Only eight of the ensemble winners have won the Best Picture award, while nine have lost. Last year, The Help won the Best Ensemble award, although the Oscar ultimately went to The Artist.
Next weekend is the Directors Guild Awards, in which Affleck is nominated, alongside Steven Spielberg for Lincoln, Ang Lee for Life of Pi, Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, and Tom Hooper for Les Miserables.
If Affleck wins that, it would be a brutal dismissal of the Academy’s failure to nominate him and Argo would seem to be a lock for the top honor of the year.
This year’s SAG honorees:
“I can’t believe I’m standing in the place where Daniel Day-Lewis just was. I feel like I’ll be a better actor just from the radiation,” said Affleck, accepting on behalf of the cast.
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
“It was an actor that murdered Abraham Lincoln,” Day-Lewis said, collecting the award. “And therefore it’s only fitting that every now and then an actor tries to bring him back to life again.”
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
“I earned my SAG card when I was 14. I did an MTV promo for My Super Sweet 16, and I remember getting it in the mail and I remember it being the best day of my entire life because it officially made me a professional actor, which put me in the category with all of you,” she said in her speech. “Now I have this naked statue, which means some of you even voted for me. That is an undescribable feeling.”
Best Supporting Actor
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln (not in attendance.)
Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
“I want to thank my mother for voting for me … Or at least, she better have,” Hathaway said in her acceptance speech. Her mother, Kate McCauley Hathaway, is also an actress, and once played her daughter’s role of Fantine in touring productions of the Les Miserables stage show.
Comedy Series Ensemble
Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
This is his seventh win for the character of corporate overlord Jack Donaghy on the NBC sitcom.
Actress in a Comedy Series
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
She has won four previous times for her role as TV-show producer and weirdo-enabler Liz Lemon in the series, which airs its final episode on Thursday. “It’s up against The Big Bang Theory,” she said in her speech. “So just tape The Big Bang Theory for once, for crying out loud.”
Drama Series Ensemble
Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
“Ooh, it is so good to be bad,” Cranston said. “Vince Gilligan, he wrote the role of my career. And I am forever grateful to you, sir.”
Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes, Homeland
“As a brand-spanking, or Spanxing new mom, I keep finding myself referring to the cliche that it ‘takes a village’ to raise a child, and the same is very much true of making a television series. It means everything to be here with my buddies, my cast, my brilliant cast.”
Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
Julianne Moore, Game Change
Moore has had 10 previous nominations, but her role as Sarah Palin in the HBO movie is her first win.
Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys (not in attendance)
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Dick Van Dyke