The Screen Actors Guild awards might not be quite as well-known as the Golden Globes or BAFTAs but they’re arguably more important to Oscar contenders.

The awards ceremony has historically provided a meaningful bellwether for the Oscars race.

For example, the Oscars top award, Best Picture, has never been won by a film that wasn’t nominated for Best Ensemble at the SAG awards in the latter’s 23 year history.

The reason why the SAG awards are so influential is because of the screen actors themselves. The winners at the Oscars are chosen by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences.

That organisation is made up of seventeen branches: actors, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, designers, directors, documentary, executives, film editors, make-up artists and hair stylists, music, producers, public relations, short films and feature animation, sound, visual effects, and writers.

The biggest voting bloc out of all these branches is actors who make up around 22 percent of the Academy.

The Screen Actors Guild is the labour union most of these actors belong to (especially after the 2012 merger with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.)

Therefore, those who vote for the SAG awards are also the biggest voting bloc at the Oscars.

Who won the Screen Actors Guild awards?

2018’s SAG awards, celebrating the films of 2017 were presented on Sunday 21st January. The awards were given to the following.

Leading Actor

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour

Leading Actress

Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Supporting Actor

Sam Rockwell as Jason Dixon in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Supporting Actress

Allison Janney as LaVona Golden in I, Tonya

Outstanding Ensemble

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Outstanding Stunt Ensemble

Wonder Woman

Actor In A Mini-Series Or TV Movie

Alexander Skarsgård as Perry Wright in Big Little Lies

Actress In A Mini-Series Or TV Movie

Nicole Kidman as Celeste Wright in Big Little Lies

Actor In A Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson in This Is Us

Actress In A Drama Series

Claire Foy as Elizabeth Windsor in The Crown

Actor In A Comedy Series

William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher in Shameless

Actress In A Comedy Series

Julia Louis-Dreyfuss as Selina Meyer in Veep

Outstanding Ensemble In A Drama Series

This Is Us

Outstanding Ensemble In A Comedy Series

Veep

Outstanding Stunt Ensemble

Game Of Thrones

Lifetime Achievement Award

Morgan Freeman

What do the SAG awards mean for Oscars 2018 predictions?

Taking the SAG awards and the Golden Globes into account, a picture of potential Oscars winners arises.

Best Picture:

For starters, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is almost certainly going to win Best Picture. Having won Outstanding Ensemble at the SAG awards and Best Drama at the Golden Globes, it’d be hard to see how it couldn’t.

Realistically, the only film that stands a chance of standing in its way is Lady Bird. That film was nominated for Outstanding Ensemble and won Best Comedy at the Globes so it does tick the boxes. However, Lady Bird has a female director, Greta Gerwig.

In the history of the Academy only one film has won Best Picture with a female director: Katheryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. On the other hand, with all the furore around sexism in the film industry, if the Academy wanted to make a point and show itself as diverse and welcoming to women, a win for Lady Bird could help sell that vision.

The only thing that could shake up this duo’s dominance is The Shape Of Water. Guillermo Del Toro’s latest has 12 nominations at the BAFTAs and Del Toro won Best Director at the Golden Globes. It’d be a definite break from tradition but if any film could do it, it might be The Shape Of Water.

Best Actors

Elsewhere, Best Actor looks likely to go to Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour. This year’s Oscars was only ever really a two-horse race between Oldman and Call Me By Your Name’s Timothée Chalamet and the latter’s failure to win at either the SAG awards or the Golden Globes probably dooms his chances. Oldman has also never won an Oscar, despite his long career which also helps his chances.

Best Actress is a little less certain. Frances McDormand is obviously the clear favourite after picking up the SAG award and a Golden Globe. However, McDormand has already won an Academy Award for Fargo in 1997, which may count against her. Still, the Academy loves an ingenue and Lady Bird‘s Saoirse Ronan definitely fits the bill; it looks less likely since the SAG awards, but don’t count her out.

Finally, Best Supporting Actor and Actress will almost certainly go to Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and I, Tonya respectively. Having won both SAG awards and Golden Globes, this pair are the likely contender.

Rockwell could be challenged by Willem Dafoe for his performance in The Florida Project if the latter is able to take home a win at the BAFTAs, but it would be a surprise.

Best Director

Obviously the SAG awards are all about acting, so they don’t give away much about who will take home the final major Oscar. Still, the Golden Globes and BAFTA nominations might provide an answer.

The front runner is Guillermo Del Toro for his work on The Shape Of Water. So far, he has won a Golden Globe, a Critics Choice award, a Golden Lion, and six regional critics choice awards. That’s more awards won than any other likely Oscar contender.

However, while there’s no denying The Shape Of Water is an excellent film, aside from the fact that Del Toro also wrote it, it’s not exactly a huge feat of direction. Sure, there’s some nice elements including working with motion capture and a delightful musical number, but The Shape Of Water isn’t too out of left field.

In terms of incredible feats of directing, there’s Steven Spielberg’s work on The Post which came together in just a few months. Spielberg was in negotiations to direct as of early March 2017, and the film was completed for a December release.

Another contender might be Ridley Scott for All The Money In The World. The feat there is Scott’s last minute switcheroo where he swapped the disgraced Kevin Spacey out for Christopher Plummer and reshot all the former’s scenes in the space of just nine days.

There’s also Christopher Nolan’s work on Dunkirk which, more than any other potential nominee, shows a single-minded commitment to a particular vision. The film is visually distinct from its competitors, which may prove to be of interest to the Academy.

Finally, Greta Gerwig’s work on Lady Bird may receive an honour. As mentioned above, crowning the second ever female Best Director after a year of #MeToo and #TimesUp would be great optics for the Academy.

The Academy will reveal the Oscar nominations on 23rd January 2018