Oscar Watch: SAG Awards Drastically Alter Race

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When the SAG Awards were announced in Hollywood, one could argue that we in the industry felt an earthquake that could have easily been marked on the Richter scale.

The Theory of Everything Eddie Redmayne

Up until this point, Boyhood had been cruising towards what many thought was a surefire win for Best Picture. It had come off a Golden Globes win and a series of critic circles wins, and when those Oscar nominations were announced, if we were to bet at that particular moment, our money would have been on Richard Linklater’s masterpiece.

But, that was then and this is now.

Over the weekend in a quieter ceremony than the broadcast to the world SAG Awards, Birdman was awarded Best Picture by the Producers Guild. And with the win for Best Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture by the SAG Awards, we think our new (slight) front-runner has to be the Michael Keaton-starring Birdman.

And speaking of Keaton, he might not be the front-runner to win Oscar gold either for Best Actor -- but, more on that in a moment.

There is a glaring fact that cannot be ignored now that Birdman has won the SAG Award and the PGA Award for Best Picture. The last seven winners of the PGA Best Picture have gone on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Now, that is about as sure as you can get, but streaks are always made to be broken and one could argue, and we will, that this is the year that a seven year streak could come to a close.

Watch Boyhood online and you'll see a film that still has everything that Oscar loves. It is a heartwarming story that spans years and years and was a Herculean effort by a director to bring to life. And we should mention that it is a helmer that the Academy adores in Linklater. And with Patricia Arquette easily looking to win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, we could see a lot of her votes making their way to the top prize as well for Boyhood.

Boyhood Ellar Coltrane Ethan Hawke Lorelei Linklater

But, and this is a very big but… what Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu did with his film is astounding. It is unlike anything else we saw last year (save Whiplash) and the Academy also adores a film that pushes the envelope.

Sure, it won the PGA award and that gives it that streak we talked about. Yet, there is something that has us discounting Birdman’s win at the SAG Awards. The SAGs give their awards to ensembles, not best picture. And given the cast that Birdman has, versus the cast Boyhood has, that award seems a no-brainer.

So, we have to focus more on that PGA Birdman win and whether that seven straight PGA winners win Oscar Best Picture factoid continues. Sorry, but it is too early to tell. But one thing is clear, we have a race now.

Where it appeared that Boyhood was running away with the Best Picture trophy, now, that is not at all the case. It’s a two-picture race and we know our winner will be either Birdman or Boyhood. And this campaign has truly just gotten started now that it is down to two films.

Now, about that Keaton loss last night at the SAG Awards. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) upset him for Best Actor and now what appeared to be Keaton’s can’t-lose streak towards Oscar gold has hit a speed bump. Has it, though?

Actually, yes, it has. The SAG has the largest voting block of all the guilds when it comes to Oscar votes. Redmayne won the Best Actor, Drama Award at the Golden Globes and Keaton took the same award for comedy… setting up this showdown at the Oscars.

We thought Keaton had the lead. But after Redmayne won at the SAGs, the Best Actor category has joined the Best Picture category and become a two-person race.

Like we said before, this thing is now a race, people!

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