Oscar Watch: SAG Awards and Director's Guild

9104__crash_lCrash‘s victory over Brokeback Mountain in the Screen Actors Guild Awards‘ Ensemble Cast category (pictured), the equivalent of Best Picture, is a needed reminder that this is not a one-picture race. Brokeback went 0 for 4 at the SAGs. Meanwhile, Crash has been building critical momentum for some time, and it’s probably no surprise that working actors would reward a movie that, as one of last night’s recipients noted, has 74 speaking parts. The actors make up the most populous branch of the Academy, so Crash clearly has a chance for Best Picture, and maybe Best Original Screenplay, at the Oscars. Paradoxically, Crash‘s strong ensemble seems to doom its chances for individual acting awards; last night’s trophies went to Golden Globe winners Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line), and Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener), with Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man) finally being shown some love in the Supporting category in place of Syriana‘s George Clooney. Still, Brokeback remains a lock for Best Director, given Ang Lee’s victory at the Directors Guild Awards on Saturday. So don’t count either movie out yet in the race for the biggest Oscar prizes.

A reminder of what’s at stake here comes from CNN Money, which estimates the financial impact of the Oscar nominations between tomorrow’s announcements and the awards ceremony on March 5. A Best Picture nomination could be worth $11 million at the box office over the next month, plus another $1 million for acting nominations. That would be good news for any of the nominated pictures still in theaters, since none of the likely nominees has been a blockbuster so far. That’s not to mention what an Oscar win is worth, or the corresponding boost to DVD revenue later on. So it’s more than just an honor to be nominated.

addCredit(“SAG Awards: Mark J. Terrill/AP”)

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  • kj

    i knew crash would win…there’s no better example of ‘ensemble acting’ this year. remember sideways won last year. i still think ‘brokeback’ is the better picture…it’s the most deserving of the oscar, SAG award or not.

  • Ned

    Re “The actors make up the most populous branch of the Academy, so Crash clearly has a chance for Best Picture, and maybe Best Original Screenplay, at the Oscars.”
    Actors can’t vote for Best Original Screenplay. Only screenwriters can vote in the screenplay category.

  • Charlotte

    Actors don’t nominate screenplays, but they do vote for the winners (as do all members). Gary Susman was obviously considering that Crash would be nominated for best screenplay, as he was writing about who the winners would be rather than just the nominees.

  • George

    I had a feeling that Crash’s victory would encourage journalists to envision Best Picture drama that simply doesn’t exist. “Best Ensemble” is not the equivalent of “Best Picture.” Crash is an ensemble film–Brokeback is not. Crash’s victory here is really no surprise at all. The only category that Brokeback had a chance of winning last night was Best Supporting Actress, and Michelle Williams’s loss is a testament to admiration for Rachel Weisz’s role, not to fading enthusiasm for Brokeback. Create all the false drama that you want, but a Best Picture Oscar for Brokeback Mountain is totally inevitable. Crash doesn’t have a chance.

  • Todd

    Thank you George, I couldn’t agree with you more! I completely expected Crash to win the ensemble prize, how could it not? It is the very definition of ensemble piece, but as we all know, nothing is written in stone until those envelopes are opened on March 5th.

  • Jp

    I agree. Crash was an ensemble movie with repescted actors, so I knew it would win this award. Brokeback is vastly superior to Crash, it is just not a major “ensemble” picture.
    BTW, can someone please explain why people love this movie so much? I thought it was ridiculous. I appreciated the message, but you don’t have to beat me over the head with it!!!

  • mike

    Remember a couple of weeks ago when Christopher Lee was railing against young actors? They just don’t give acting awards to actors in their twenties. Denzel Washington, Sean Penn and Tim Robbins didn’t win until they hit thirty. The only exception I can think of is Adrian Brody. I still think Brokeback will win best picture, but the young cast, unfortunely, is still accumulating credits.

  • Stephanie

    Christopher Lee has no clue what he’s talking about. Before he passed away, James Coburn won a best supporting role for “Affliction.” He was in his 80′s at the time, and this was what, five years ago?

  • Charlotte

    If I were voting, I would have a hard time choosing for best picture between Brokeback, Crash, Capote, and Good Night. I can’t remember the last time I was so impressed by four stellar films in one year. All had excellent screenplays and actors, and all explored facets if American life that are at times uncomfortable for some people. I also loved Phoenix and Witherspoon in Walk the Line. For moviegoers who love intelligent, well-done films, this year was outstanding. Add Sideways from last year, and there’s a lot of good recent viewing.

  • mike

    My point was acting awards are not always for a that years movie. Paul Giamani will win best supporting because he didn’t win for American Splendor or Sideways. Philip Seymore Hoffman is long overdue to win. Neither was nearly as good as Jake and Heath. Somewhere down the line, Jake and Heath will win partially because they didn’t win for Brokeback. It’s an arbitrary and random system, but thats what happens when actors vote. Sometimes they even give an award to Roberto Benini.

  • Martin

    No surprise in either the win for ‘Crash’ or the spin from the press that ‘Brokeback’ being shut out and ‘Crash’ winning the ensemble award meant that support for ‘Brokeback’ was waning, and that the Oscar race was about to heat up in a big way.
    It is, of course, not true. SAG’s predictions are notoriously bad, everyone expected ‘Crash’ to win last night (actors love to reward name actors for taking part in these things, and often ‘Best Ensemble’ means biggest names stooping for scale pay). ‘Sideways’ was an exception to that last year (deservedly so), but let’s not forget how much momentum came from wins for ‘Gosford Park’, and ‘Traffic’ from SAG ensemble wins. (Not that both were not deserving and both superior to the eventual best picture winners, but the Oscars seem not to care much about the SAG Ensemble award. In fact, in the last five years, only two actors have went on to win from AMPAS after being part of winning ensembles.)
    ‘Brokeback’ remains the lead horse, and after it comes away with the most nominations tomorrow, will have the press spinning back the other way. Look for ‘Brokeback’ to have 10 nominations, and ‘Crash’ to have around six.

  • Booker

    The SAG awards were first handed out in 1994: No SAG Cast Ensemble given until the following year. Apollo 13 won SAG in 1995 but Braveheart won the Oscar; The Birdcage won SAG 1996 but The English Patient won the Oscar; The Full Monty won SAG in 1997 but Titanic won the Oscar; Shakespeare in Love won both SAG and Oscar in 1998; American Beauty won both SAG and Oscar in 1999; Traffic won SAG in 2000 but Gladiator won the Oscar; Gosford Park won SAG in 2001 but A
    Beautiful Mind won the Oscar; Chicago won both in 2002; Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won both in 2003; Sideways won the SAG last year but Million Dollar Baby won the Oscar. Brokeback will probably win on Oscar night and not Crash. Not that it’s a bad movie, but Brokeback has won the PGA and the DGA.

  • TorontoTom

    Don’t worry – it’s Brokeback all the way at the Oscars! It probably won’t win any acting awards (although it should) but Best Picture and Director are a lock. I’d take Ledger or Phoenix over Hoffman but it appears to be his year. Good for Reese!

  • David

    It’s a longshot for Crash to overtake BBM for best picture, but if any movie’s going to pull off that feat, it will be Crash. Yes, BBM was good, but still highly overrated, and if momentum continues shifting to Crash….we could all see a big upset victory come Oscar night

  • Stephen

    When you think of Cast Ensamble, you think of a big cast that pulled off a good movie, like Crash did. There were big names and a lot of them in extremly small roles. Then you have Brokeback Mountain who has a realitely small cast which all put out an amazing job. Come Oscar night, size of cast and the way they clicked won’t metter, Brokeback will walk away with the prize without a doubt. As far as acting goes, Heath Ledger deserves to win, but it seems that Hoffman can’t be topped, and I tryly feel that Jake deserves a bid ifnot a win, he completly won over the crowd in his role. And as far as Michelle Williams goes, what is the deal. She wins every critic award, until they begin to be televised and then she can’t pull in a statue to save her life, give her some credit, not many women can even imagine the role she was put in, and she pulled it off brilliantly. Hated her before the movie, but she won me over. Oh, and yea, Witherspoon is amazing!!

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