It’s been a season of epic one-upsmanship, if you will. What with each new guild, critics circle, and every other organization under the cinematic sun (I still holla at the Central Ohio Film Critics for showing “Melancholia” some love!) throwing a set of curveball winners from the mound of consistent-across-the-board nominees, the most surprising of which was the crowning of the cast of The Help as best ensemble.
Last night’s SAG Awards (Screen Actors Guild, not some sick reference to my Meryl’s bosom) threw another wrench in the pre-Oscar machine, effectively widening the Lead race (both male and female) to two candidates in each category by awarding Jean Dujardin for his work in The Artist and, to everyone’s surprise, recognizing Viola Davis for her contribution to The Help.
What does this mean for the Academy, exactly? To be honest, not a whole lot. The SAG has never had much momentum going into the Oscars, primarily because many of the same members populate both entities. What we usually see with the SAG Awards is a reflection of Oscar voters’ taste for the preceding year, the ceremony a more accurate weathervane that often mirrors Oscar fancy than acts as a cold hard influence. It’s our incessant need to “predict” and “speculate” that drives expectations elsewhere. The SAG could be perfeclty in tune to what the Academy has been feeling all along.
I can’t remember the last time a one-man, one-woman pre-Oscar race suddenly turned into a double face-off this close to the actual ceremony, but consider me excited nonetheless. Clooney’s got a lot going for him, although The Descendants seems to have lost a lot of the steam that propelled it through the Globes earlier this month. The Artist picks up some momentum as Dujardin picked up his SAG statuette last night, and I still see it as the frontrunner for Best Picture. The most disheartening aspect of last night’s telecast came in the form of Streep’s loss to Davis, as it seems once again a crowning performance by the leading legend is going to be passed over for a younger, Oscar-less talent yet again.
Alas, I’ve got more important things to worry about; I’m still silently weeping over the nail in the Jessica Chastain’s Oscar coffin.