Hollywood makes multiple pit stops as it heads towards its annual Academy Awards celebration, with frontrunners and snubs taking shape every time a new pre-Oscars ceremony takes place. The 2022 SAG Awards were just handed out by the Screen Actors Guild, and because they are voted on by actors (the largest branch represented in the Academy), they tend to give us the clearest look yet at which performances and movie titles might be recognized at the 2022 Academy Awards.
Let’s break down the most recent SAG Awards winners, then discuss how these wins will affect the overall Oscars race. Also, we’ve made sure to make it easy for you to either see or revisit each title, thanks to AMC Theatres.
Male Actor In A Leading Role: Will Smith, KING RICHARD
It’s hard to believe that WIll Smith, easily one of the most successful Hollywood celebrities in the past two decades, has yet to claim an Oscar trophy on behalf of his work. Yes, he has been nominated for an Oscar two times before (and really should have won it for THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS). But many feel that this is Smith’s year, and his SAG win for playing Richard Williams only solidifies his odds of taking home an Oscar statue on Academy Awards night.
Richard Williams is the tough-as-nails coach of tennis sensations Venus and Serena Williams, with KING RICHARD following his early years as the “captain” who guided his daughters’ ships through choppy waters. Smith is both resilient and supportive in his role, standing up to the obstacles facing his beloved children but showing the warts that come with being an overzealous Sports Parent. At this stage, Will Smith appears to be the frontrunner for Best Actor at the Oscars.
Female Actor In A Leading Role: Jessica Chastain, THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE
This SAG Awards win was a bit more of a surprise than Will Smith’s, though no less deserved. Jessica Chastain disappears into the role of televangelist Tammy Faye Baker, who together with her husband Jim (Andrew Garfield) created a religious empire that conned thousands of dollars in contributions from their loyal followers. It’s a fascinating story, one made more compelling by Chastain’s complete commitment to the complicated role of Tammy Faye. It’s great that SAG recognized her transformation.
The Best Actress race at the Oscars, however, still could go in any direction. The field at the Oscars doesn’t totally mirror the Best Actress category at the SAG Awards, and a dark horse like SPENCER star Kristen Stewart could pull some of Chastain’s support, leading to a surprise win for Nicole Kidman (BEING THE RICARDOS) or Lady Gaga (HOUSE OF GUCCI). Currently, this race feels like any actress’s game.
Male Actor In A Supporting Role: Troy Kotsur, CODA
CODA Keeps proving itself to be this year’s “Little Engine That Could” during the awards race, surprising the supposed Big Dogs from the major studios by hanging around and staying in the conversation, ever since its debut at the previous year’s Sundance Film Festival. That’s what happens when you make a delightful and poignant movie like CODA, though. Audiences everywhere become enraptured by its charms, as SAG was last night.
Troy Kotsur bested some major talent in his SAG category, including Bradley Cooper (LICORICE PIZZA) and Ben Affleck (THE TENDER BAR). He even topped the actor I thought was the current front runner in this category, THE POWER OF THE DOG’s Kodi Smit-McPhee. That kind of makes Kotsur the favorite at the Oscars, which is well deserved.
Female Actor In A Supporting Role: Ariana DeBose, WEST SIDE STORY
Oscar pundits continue to be blown away by the fact that Steven Spielberg’s masterful WEST SIDE STORY isn’t getting more awards love. A recent trend on social media found audience members celebrating the craft that went into several key scenes from the musical, but the lone person picking up trophies on behalf of Spielberg’s film so far has been Ariana DeBose.
Better this than nothing at all, I suppose, as DeBose is magnificent in the influential role of Anita. The DeBose train has been rolling all through the pre-Oscars awards run, and the SAG win does nothing to slow it down. In a just world, the movie and its director would be frontrunners in their respective categories, but that does not appear to be the case at this time.
Cast In A Motion Picture: CODA
The SAG Awards doesn’t have a “Best Picture” category, choosing to recognize the contributions of a full ensemble of actors, and this year, that honor went to CODA. The heartwarming family drama about a child of deaf parents hoping to apply to a music school features tender performances across the board, and is a worthy SAG winner.
The reason why I’m not sure if the SAG win does anything for CODA’s chances at the Academy Awards is because it did not face off against the movie that seems to be the current frontrunner, Jane Campion’s THE POWER OF THE DOG. Maybe the fact that POWER didn’t even get a SAG nomination slows down its progress, but I instead think that this will be one of the years where the SAG and Oscar winners don’t line up at the top, so for now, I’m just going to remain happy that CODA got some love from its peers, and we will turn our attentions
The 2022 Academy Awards will be handed out on Sunday, March 27 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.