What does ‘Parasite’s’ best ensemble win at the SAG Awards mean for the Oscars?

January 20, 2020, 5:03 AM UTC
26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 19: (L-R) So-dam Park, Sun-kyun Lee, Woo-sik Choi, Jeong-eun Lee, and Kang-ho Song accept Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for 'Parasite' onstage during the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Rich Fury—Getty Images

A few things seem crystal clear following the results of this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Laura Dern, and Brad Pitt are now all but locks for Oscar’s top acting prizes for their work in Joker, Judy, Marriage Story, and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, respectively.

But typically at least one—or a few—of Oscar’s top actors are also represented in the best ensemble-winning cast at the SAG Awards. And that winning ensemble often corresponds with the film that emerges most likely to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

This year? Not so much.

At the Golden Globes, the season’s most high-profile precursor to the Oscars, Sony’s Quentin Tarantino saga Once Upon a Time… and Universal’s World War I epic 1917 each took home a statue for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy and Drama, respectively).

Recent history shows that more than half of all Best Picture winners at the Academy Awards were also victors at the Globes. But in the two weeks since the Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out its awards, the race for Oscar’s top prize has only gotten muddier.

On Saturday, the Producers Guild awarded its top prize, usually a reliable indicator of Oscar’s Best Picture, to Sam Mendes’s 1917not to Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho’s now SAG-winning Parasite.

Considering that producers are the Academy voters who ultimately choose the Best Picture winner, this would seem to lend itself to an all-but-certain result at the Feb. 9 telecast. Right?

But 1917, which debuted to the industry in late November, making it a belated entrant to the Oscar race, has failed to garner any meaningful attention for its actors, including SAG and BAFTA noms for its lead actors, George Mackay and Dean-Charles Chapman.

Interestingly, Parasite, which has earned widespread acclaim for Bong including Oscar nominations for Original Screenplay, International Feature Film, and Best Picture, is also missing individual accolades for its all-Korean cast of actors.

This begs a bigger question about whether the Academy will, as it traditionally does, link its favorite movie of the year to at least one or two of its favorite individual performances.

Oscar’s aforementioned most-likely acting winners represent Warner Brothers, Roadside Attractions, Netflix, and Sony collectively. Yet it’s looking more and more feasible that this year’s Best Picture contest could become a free-for-all battle between a deeply personal WWI epic from Universal and a Korean-language satire/thriller about class from upstart studio, Neon.

For those who prefer a side of healthy dose of question marks with their golden statues, this couldn’t be better news.

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