J.K. Simmons accepting his SAG-AFTRA supporting actor award for "Whiplash."
While I don't care what the Golden Globes voters think about the year's top movies and performances, I do respect what the members of SAG-AFTRA say about which of their actor colleagues deserve praise. And on Sunday the union put "Birdman" firmly into the running for the best picture Oscar. "Birdman" won the SAG-AFTRA award for best picture — the union calls it "outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture" — tonight at the Shrine Auditorium. "Birdman" also won last night at the Producers' Guild of America. Oscars handicapper Tom O'Neill notes that the PGA award "has correctly predicted Oscar's Best Pictures for the last 7 years in a row."
Tonight's lead actor awards went to Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything") and Julianne Moore ("Still Alice.") The supporting awards went to Patricia Arquette ("Boyhood") and J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash.") If those are your actor Oscar winners next month, nobody would be too surprised.
There were also acting TV awards on Sunday night for Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Mark Ruffalo, Kevin Spacey, Viola Davis and Uzo Aduba. The top TV series were "Downton Abbey" and "Orange is the New Black." SAG-AFTRA also gave a lifetime achievement award to Debbie Reynolds, presented by her daughter Carrie Fisher.
O'Neill analyzes that "Birdman" is now in a good position for the Oscar and, as a result, that movie's star, Michael Keaton, could challenge Redmayne for the lead actor Oscar.
Keaton could rally at the Oscars if "Birdman" takes down "Boyhood" as Best Picture, as now that suddenly seems possible following its double guild triumphs. On Saturday night, "Birdman" won the Producers' Guild of America's trophy, which has correctly predicted Oscar's Best Pictures for the last 7 years in a row. In addition, it won SAG's ensemble award, which often matches the academy's Best Picture (9 out of 16 years) and even tattles on upsets to come ("Argo," "Crash" and "Shakespeare in Love")….
Birdman" has huge advantages at the Oscars. The Best Picture victor usually has the most nominations and "Birdman" now leads with 9 – tied with "Grand Budapest Hotel." It's helmed by an esteemed auteur, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, who can win the Directors' Guild of America Award on Feb. 7. Yes, Richard Linklater ("Boyhood") is currently favored there, but no serious pundit feels much confidence in that forecast at this crazy point in the derby.
However, "Birdman" isn't up for editing at the Academy Awards and that could signal its doom. Every Oscar Best Picture dating back to "Ordinary People" (1981) has been nominated in that category.
But now every serious Oscarologist is worried and privately wonders: Is "Birdman" the new "King's Speech"?