SAG Awards: Why everyone is so confused about what will win the Best Picture Oscar

The cast of 'Spotlight' won the best cast performance prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, while actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larson won prizes for their work in 'The Revenant' and 'Room,' respectively.

Kerry Hayes/Open Road Films/AP
The cast of 'Spotlight' won the prize for best ensemble in a movie at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Big winners at this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards included the cast of the newspaper drama “Spotlight,” “The Revenant” actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and Brie Larson of “Room.”

The SAG Awards were held on Jan. 30 and also included a lifetime achievement award being bestowed on comedian Carol Burnett. Other winners in the film acting categories included Alicia Vikander, who took the best supporting actress award for her work in “The Danish Girl,” and Idris Elba, who won for best supporting actor for “Beasts of No Nation” (he’s not nominated at this year’s Oscars).

The award for best performance by an ensemble in a TV drama series went to the actors on “Downton Abbey,” while those who appear on “Orange Is the New Black” won the award for best performance by an ensemble in a comedy series. 

“How to Get Away With Murder” actress Viola Davis won the best actress in a drama series prize, while Kevin Spacey of “House of Cards” won the best actor in a drama award. 

“Orange” snagged another victory with Uzo Aduba’s win in the best actress in a comedy series category, while Jeffrey Tambor won the best actor in a comedy series award for “Transparent.” 

As with some other awards ceremonies, the SAG Awards can occasionally give indicators as to who will win what big prize when it comes to Oscars night. 

But with the guild deciding to name the cast of “Spotlight” as the best cast performance – the SAG Awards equivalent of Best Picture – many industry watchers are more confused than ever. 

Before now, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association named “The Revenant” the best drama film of the year at the Golden Globes and “The Martian” the best comedy. The Producers Guild of America named the movie “The Big Short” the best picture last month. And now the SAG named “Spotlight” as their own best picture. 

“The signs are pointing all over the place,” New York Times writer Cara Buckley wrote, while Scott Feinberg of the Hollywood Reporter wrote, “We have an Oscars race, folks!... it’s still too close to call.” 

Meanwhile, Deadline writer Pete Hammond wrote, “The race for the Best Picture Oscar remains about as wide open as it has ever been at this point in the game.”

While there are no doubt many factors at work, how different the various contenders such as “Spotlight,” “The Revenant,” and “The Big Short” are may be a factor in the support each are receiving. It's been seen before when, for example, the special effects-heavy space-set drama "Gravity" and the harrowing film "12 Years a Slave" were viewed as the top contenders for the Best Picture Oscar in 2014.

Vanity Fair writer Katey Rich highlighted the difference between “Spotlight” and, for example, “Short,” writing that the question will be whether “the contained, restrained film [‘Spotlight’] can prevail over something as flashy as ‘The Big Short.’ ”

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