When the Screen Actors Guild nominations are announced on Feb. 4, all eyes will turn to the top category: outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture. That is often looked to as a leading bellwether for the Academy Award for best picture.
Last year, Parasite won the SAG Award for outstanding cast (a first for a film not in English) en route to its Oscar win for best picture (again, a first for a film not in English).
But the two awards don’t always go hand-in-hand. Of the 25 films to win the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture since the category's inception in 1995 (the awards show's second year), 12 have gone on to win the Oscar for best picture, 12 have gone on to be nominated for best picture (but not win), and one wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar for best picture. (That was Mike Nichols’ 1996 farce The Birdcage.)
Looking at it from the other direction, of the last 25 Academy Award winners for best picture, all but three were at least nominated for the SAG cast award. The three Oscar winners for best picture that were not SAG-nominated in the cast category were Braveheart (1995), The Shape of Water (2017) and Green Book (2018).
Are there any patterns to what types of films do best in the top category at each show? Speaking very broadly, big, epic films seem to do better at the Oscars. These include Braveheart, Titanic and Gladiator. Smaller, more intimate films seem to do better at the SAG Awards. These include The Full Monty, Sideways and Little Miss Sunshine.
The five films that seem to have the inside track for SAG nominations in the cast category this year are The Trial of the Chicago 7, One Night in Miami, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Da 5 Bloods and Mank.
Other strong contenders include Minari, The Prom, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal and Judas and the Black Messiah.
Here are all the SAG winners for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, separated into three categories based on how well the films did at the Oscars. Note: In the second and third categories, the second title on each line is the name of the film that won the Oscar for best picture.
Won the SAG Award; won the Oscar for best picture
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
American Beauty (1999)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
The King’s Speech (2010)
Won the SAG Award; nominated for the Oscar for best picture
Apollo 13 (1995); Oscar: Braveheart
The Full Monty (1997); Oscar: Titanic
Traffic (2000); Oscar: Gladiator
Gosford Park (2001); Oscar: A Beautiful Mind
Sideways (2004); Oscar: Million Dollar Baby
Little Miss Sunshine (2006); Oscar: The Departed
Inglorious Basterds (2009); Oscar: The Hurt Locker
The Help (2011); Oscar: The Artist
American Hustle (2013); Oscar: 12 Years a Slave
Hidden Figures (2016); Oscar: Moonlight
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017); Oscar: The Shape of Water
Black Panther (2018); Oscar: Green Book
Won the SAG Award; not even nominated for the Oscar for best picture
The Birdcage (1996); Oscar: The English Patient
Of the 25 winners of the SAG cast award, the film with the largest ensemble cast was Gosford Park (20 actors shared the award). The film with the smallest ensemble cast was Sideways (just four actors -- Thomas Haden Church, Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh -- shared the award).
Black Panther is the only superhero film to win the ensemble cast award.
The Full Monty, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Parasite are the only winners not to be nominated in any other category at the SAG Awards.