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How SAG nominations may have changed the Oscars race (especially for 'La La Land')

The recently announced nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards may influence the awards season in interesting ways, especially for the musical 'La La Land,' which was passed over for a major prize.

'La La Land' stars Ryan Gosling (l.) and Emma Stone (r.).
Dale Robinette/Lionsgate/AP | Caption

The recently announced Screen Actors Guild nominations surprised some, with supposed frontrunner “La La Land” missing out on a key nod and “Hidden Figures” getting unexpected attention. 

The films nominated for best ensemble – the SAG equivalent of best picture – are the movies “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight,” both of which were previously seen as frontrunners for the Best Picture Oscars race, as well as the films “Captain Fantastic,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Fences.” 

Missing from the list of contenders for this prize is the movie “La La Land,” a musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone that was thought to be a major contender for the Best Picture Oscar. 

Meanwhile, Casey Affleck of “Manchester by the Sea,” Andrew Garfield of “Hacksaw Ridge,” Mr. Gosling of “La La Land,” Denzel Washington of “Fences,” and Viggo Mortensen of “Captain Fantastic” are nominated for the best actor SAG Award, while “Jackie” actress Natalie Portman, “La La Land” actress Ms. Stone, “The Girl on the Train” actress Emily Blunt, “Florence Foster Jenkins” actress Meryl Streep, and “Arrival” actress Amy Adams are nominated for the best actress prize. 

“Moonlight” actor Mahershala Ali, “Manchester by the Sea” actor Lucas Hedges, “Hell or High Water” actor Jeff Bridges, “Lion” actor Dev Patel, and “Florence Foster Jenkins” actor Hugh Grant are competing for the best supporting actor SAG Award and “Fences” actress Viola Davis, “Moonlight” actress Naomie Harris, “Lion” actress Nicole Kidman, “Hidden Figures” actress Octavia Spencer, and “Manchester by the Sea” actress Michelle Williams are competing for the best supporting actress SAG Award. 

As noted by Hollywood Reporter writer Scott Feinberg, “La La Land” now has to beat history in order to get the Best Picture Oscar, as only one movie in the 21 years of the best ensemble award has won the Best Picture Oscar without being nominated for the SAG ensemble prize as well. 

" 'La La Land' now will face a daunting statistic as it continues on its otherwise pristine march toward the best picture Oscar,” Mr. Feinberg writes. “But – but – I wouldn't write off ‘La La Land’ just yet," he adds.

Other award nominations, like those from the Directors Guild of America and the Producers Guild of America, also factor into Oscar calculations, he explained. " 'La La Land' still fits the model of what the Academy has gone for in the past more than 'Moonlight' does. If 'Moonlight' wins the DGA and/or PGA Awards, as well, well, then it's time for 'La La Land' to start sweating.” 

One film's exclusion could be another film's opportunity. “La La Land” missing out on the best ensemble prize means other movies have taken center stage, including “Hidden Figures,” a movie about the African-American women who were employed at NASA during the space race.

The SAG nominations may have reversed the "relatively weak showing to date" of "Hidden Figures," argues Deadline writer Pete Hammond.