Could Lily Gladstone’s Historic SAG Win Get Her Over the Finish Line, and Will ‘Oppenheimer’ Tie the ‘West Side Story’ Oscar Record?

Lily Gladstone and Cillian Murphy
Apple Original Films / Universal Pictures

Just 30 minutes after final voting for the Screen Actors Guild Awards wrapped up, I made a last-minute switch in my best actress prediction — from Lily Gladstone in “Killers of the Flower Moon” to Emma Stone in “Poor Things.” Let this be a lesson: Second-guessing yourself is seldom a good idea.

Lily Gladstone made history as the first Native American and Indigenous person to clinch an individual SAG Award for her portrayal of Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman, in Martin Scorsese’s gripping crime saga. With a lead actress (drama) Golden Globe and a SAG Award now under her belt, Gladstone’s award-season momentum continues to be formidable. Historically, only seven performers have failed to win the Oscar after winning the unique combination of Globe and SAG:

  • 1995: Lauren Bacall (“The Mirror Has Two Faces”) lost to Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient,” best picture winner)
  • 2001: Russell Crowe (“A Beautiful Mind”) lost to Denzel Washington (“Training Day”)
  • 2002: Renée Zellweger (best picture winner “Chicago”) lost to Nicole Kidman (“The Hours”)
  • 2006: Eddie Murphy (“Dreamgirls”) lost to Alan Arkin (“Little Miss Sunshine”)
  • 2007: Julie Christie (“Away from Her”) lost to Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”)
  • 2018: Glenn Close (“The Wife”) lost to Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”)
  • 2020: Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) lost to Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)

Given these odds, Gladstone appears to have a slight edge over her main rival. This season, Gladstone and Stone have gone head-to-head twice, each securing a victory — Stone at the Critics Choice Awards and Gladstone at the SAG Awards. It’s interesting to note that CCA don’t include any AMPAS voters, whereas SAG-AFTRA does, making the SAG Awards a potentially more accurate predictor.

Read Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Oscars predictions in all categories.

On the other hand, the best actor category seems more straightforward now, with Cillian Murphy‘s portrayal of the father of the atomic bomb in “Oppenheimer” besting Paul Giamatti’s heartwarming turn in “The Holdovers.” Murphy, with Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG prizes, is well-positioned for his first Oscar win. Historical trends favor actors who play real-life figures, further boosting Murphy’s chances.

The supporting actress category is nearly decided, with Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s performance in “The Holdovers” sweeping the awards season and giving Alexander Payne’s dramedy a place among winners.

©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

The road for “Barbie” to claim a couple of its eight Oscar noms is considerably narrowing. Winning very few guild prizes, and without the SAG ensemble prize, it will likely have its Oscar night mirroring “A Star is Born” (2018) with an original song statuette only. Coincidentally, “A Star is Born” also had the same number of nominations, was also a Warner Bros. movie, and was shockingly snubbed for its actor-turned-director.

“Oppenheimer” is poised to join an exclusive club of best picture winners with awards for both actor and supporting actor, a feat not achieved since 1959’s “Ben-Hur.” An impressive 17 out of 95 best picture winners have taken home two or more acting awards.

  • “Gone with the Wind” (1939) — Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel
  • “Mrs. Miniver” (1942) — Greer Garson, Teresa Wright
  • “Going My Way” (1944) — Bing Crosby, Barry Fitgerald
  • “It Happened One Night” (1934) — Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert
  • “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946) — Fredric March, Harold Russell
  • “All the King’s Men” (1949) — Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge
  • “From Here to Eternity” (1953) — Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed
  • “On the Waterfront” (1954) — Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint
  • “Ben-Hur” (1959) — Charlton Heston, Hugh Griffith
  • “West Side Story” (1961) — George Chakiris, Rita Moreno
  • “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) — Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher
  • “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979) — Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep
  • “Terms of Endearment” (1983) — Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson
  • “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) — Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster
  • “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) — Gwyneth Paltrow, Judi Dench
  • “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) — Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman
  • “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022) — Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis

Notably, “Oppenheimer” is on track to dominate the Oscars, potentially snagging up to 10 awards, which would tie it for the second-most awarded film in the ceremony’s history, alongside the iconic “West Side Story” and behind “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic,” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

With a likely victory ahead at the Producers Guild of America Awards, the Universal Pictures’ box office drama looks to be be the first guild and televised awards-ceremony sweeper since “Argo” (2012), the only film to do so since 2009’s best picture expansion. And let’s not forget, final Oscar voting is still open.

From Variety US