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Oscar Race Still Foggy for Best Picture Following SAG Awards

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American Hustle cast members Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Rohm celebrate their win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

American Hustle cast members Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Rohm celebrate their win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and cast snared surprise best ensemble honors at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards last night (Jan. 18). It halted some of the momentum of “12 Years a Slave,” and turned the Best Picture Oscar race into a muddle.

“12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” are emerging as head-to-head rivals with “Gravity,” thought to be a strong contender early on, fading in comparison.

The Alfonso Cuarón-directed film premiered at the 70th Venice International Film Festival in August, and won critical acclaim for the acting, direction, screenplay, cinematography and visual effects.

2014 Oscar Nominees for Best Picture

Guide: ♣ Our Pick; ♥ Favorite; ♦ Front Runner; ♠ Dark Horse


  • American Hustle, Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon, Producers ♥ ♦
  • Captain Phillips, Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
  • Dallas Buyers Club, Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers ♣
  • Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
  • Her, Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
  • Nebraska, Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
  • Philomena, Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers ♠
  • 12 Years a Slave, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
  • The Wolf of Wall Street, Nominees to be determined
BEST DIRECTOR
David O. Russell, American Hustle ♦
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity ♥
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave ♣
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street ♠

It was nominated for a Golden Globe in the drama category and lost to “12 Years a Slave,” and also fell to “12 Years” at The Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics Choice awards.

“American Hustle” upped its front-runner status by winning the SAG for best ensemble cast and the Globe for best comedy. Some of the confusion arises, however, because “American Hustle” won the Critics Choice award for best ensemble cast and best comedy. Yet “12 Years” won both the Globe and Critics Choice awards for drama.

The Best Picture category is crowded at the Oscars this year with nine top films in contention. “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Gravity,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” add to the list.

“Gravity” and “American Hustle” lead with 10 nominations each, but sheer nominations alone aren’t necessarily a reliable predictor of Oscar sentiment.

With McConaughey and Leto cleaning up awards for actor and supporting actor, it begs the question: Where does “Dallas Buyers Club” stand as a Best Picture contender? It would have to be considered a strong dark-horse candidate at this point.

One of the smaller films in the group, “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena,” could also pull a surprise upset. Out of the group, “Philomena has the best odds of pulling a major upset.

With a respectable worldwide box office of $59.2 million, the film has turned enough heads to deserve attention. Plus, the story and acting are superb. It’s been nominated for four Oscars, including Judy Dench for Best Actress.

Although “Gravity” was shut out for film honors at the Critics Choice and SAG awards, it’s the biggest box-office grossing film in Oscar contention. It’s soared into blockbuster territory with $675 million in receipts worldwide to date.

For that reason alone the big commercial film can’t be ruled out, even though box office success isn’t supposed to be a major factor in Oscar judging.

The best chance for a major win by the film is probably in in the Best Director category. “Gravity’s” Alfonso Cuarón is up against David O. Russell, “American Hustle,” Alexander Payne, “Nebraska,” Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave” and Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Russell and McQueen both have solid chances of grabbing the award and Payne is a legitimate dark-horse contender for his beautifully nuanced film.

Because SAG members make up about 20 percent of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences voters, the table has been tipped back in “American Hustle’s” favor. But this is one race that’s too close to call.

The 86th Academy Awards will be broadcast live, Sunday, March 2, on the ABC. Be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest awards season updates and check out the SAG winners below.

Screen Actors Guild 2014 Winners for Television & Movies

Motion Pictures

    • Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

    • AMERICAN HUSTLE

      AMY ADAMS / Sydney Prosser
      CHRISTIAN BALE / Irving Rosenfeld
      LOUIS C.K. / Stoddard Thorsen
      BRADLEY COOPER / Richie DiMaso
      PAUL HERMAN / Alfonse Simone
      JACK HUSTON / Pete Musane
      JENNIFER LAWRENCE / Rosalyn Rosenfeld
      ALESSANDRO NIVOLA / Federal Prosecutor
      MICHAEL PEÑA / Sheik (Agent Hernandez)
      JEREMY RENNER / Mayor Carmine Polito
      ELISABETH RÖHM / Dolly Polito
      SHEA WHIGHAM / Carl Elway

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

      • DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

        MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY
        Ron Woodroof

      • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

      • BLUE JASMINE

        CATE BLANCHETT
        Jasmine

      • Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Supporting Role

          • DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

            JARED LETO
            Rayon

          • Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Supporting Role

              • 12 YEARS A SLAVE

                LUPITA NYONG’O
                Patsey

            Primetime Television

              • Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

                  • BREAKING BAD

                    MICHAEL BOWEN / Uncle Jack
                    BETSY BRANDT / Marie Schrader
                    BRYAN CRANSTON / Walter White
                    LAVELL CRAWFORD / Huell
                    TAIT FLETCHER / Lester
                    LAURA FRASER / Lydia Rodarte-Quale
                    ANNA GUNN / Skyler White
                    MATTHEW T. METZLER / Matt
                    RJ MITTE / Walter White Jr.
                    DEAN NORRIS / Hank Schrader
                    BOB ODENKIRK / Saul Goodman
                    AARON PAUL / Jesse Pinkman
                    JESSE PLEMONS / Todd
                    STEVEN MICHAEL QUEZADA / Gomez
                    KEVIN RANKIN / Kenny
                    PATRICK SANE / Frankie

            Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

              • MODERN FAMILY

                JULIE BOWEN / Claire Dunphy
                TY BURRELL / Phil Dunphy
                AUBREY ANDERSON EMMONS / Lily Tucker-Pritchett
                JESSE TYLER FERGUSON / Mitchell Pritchett
                NOLAN GOULD / Luke Dunphy
                SARAH HYLAND / Haley Dunphy
                ED O’NEILL / Jay Pritchett
                RICO RODRIGUEZ / Manny Delgado
                ERIC STONESTREET / Cameron Tucker
                SOFIA VERGARA / Gloria Delgado-Pritchett
                ARIEL WINTER / Alex Dunphy

              • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

              • BREAKING BAD

                BRYAN CRANSTON
                Walter White

              • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

              • DOWNTON ABBEY

                MAGGIE SMITH
                Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham

              • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

                  • MODERN FAMILY

                    TY BURRELL
                    Phil Dunphy

                  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

                      • VEEP

                        JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS
                        Vice President Selina Meyer

                      • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

                      • BEHIND THE CANDELABRA

                        MICHAEL DOUGLAS
                        Liberace

                      • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

                          • PHIL SPECTOR

                            HELEN MIRREN
                            Linda Kenney Baden

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