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Poll: What film will win the SAG ensemble award?


Now that "The Social Network" has won every major film critics' award plus the Golden Globe and National Board of Review, the next two places to stop the juggernaut -– if it can be stopped -– is at the Producers Guild of America awards (Saturday) or the Screen Actors Guild awards (Jan. 30).

Its PGA victory seems inevitable. "The Social Network" is just the kind of hip, successful flick that the producers usually embrace. Those SAG awards, though -- they're tricky.

All pundit eyes are on one SAG category: best ensemble. If "The King's Speech" or "The Fighter" wins there, Oscar momentum could suddenly shift. The last two times there were jaw-dropping upsets for best picture at the Academy Award, we got our first hints of it in this SAG ensemble category when "Crash" (2005) and "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) prevailed.

What makes the SAG race all the more interesting this year is the likelihood that either "The King's Speech" or "The Fighter" will win. "The Social Network" is a brilliant film, yes, but its performances aren't flashy –- they don't have snob appeal. On the other hand, the performances in "The King's Speech" and "The Fighter" are big, brassy, muscular.

Meantime, don't write off "The Kids Are All Right" -– there's impressive ensemble chemistry between Mark Ruffalo and his newfound family. Or "Black Swan," which has special appeal to members of the actors' guild: It's about the performing arts. It's really "All About Eve" on toe shoes.

Below is a list of past winners.

Asterisk (*) = Won Oscar for best picture

1995 – "Apollo 13"
1996 – "The Birdcage"
1997 – "The Full Monty"
1998 – "Shakespeare in Love" *
1999 – "American Beauty" *
2000 – "Traffic"
2001 – "Gosford Park"
2002 – "Chicago" *
2003 – "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" *
2004 – "Sideways"
2005 – "Crash" *
2006 – "Little Miss Sunshine"
2007 – "No Country for Old Men" *
2008 – "Slumdog Millionaire" *
2009 – "Inglourious Basterds"

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: L.A. Times photo by Tom O'Neil

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The Fighter has the perfect casting all around, next to The King's Speech. The Social Network has a good cast but it could do without J-Timberfake...a role that Seth Rogen or somebody should have taken on instead.


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