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Is the SAG ensemble award really an Oscar prophet?

January 23, 2010 |  8:57 am

The ensemble prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards has a widespread reputation for foretelling what film will win best picture at the Oscars. The logic goes like this: Since actors comprise the largest branch within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (1,300 out of 5,800 members), the thespians within the guild are a good gauge of how all actors think. And since actors weigh films according to collective dramatic impact, the SAG ensemble award is a rough equivalent to the Oscars' best picture prize.

SAG Awards predict Oscars news

If that's the case, forget "Avatar" or "Up in the Air" winning the top Oscar on March 7. Neither is nominated for the SAG ensemble prize. The five contenders: "An Education," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Nine" and "Precious."

But how accurate has the ensemble award really been in the past? Well, by comparison to how well the other SAG awards predict, for example, the Oscar champs for best actor and actress (more than 66%), the ensemble award has one of the worst prediction rates: Only seven of the 14 winners of best ensemble won the top Oscar. However, what's interesting is that two of those winners were the biggest upsets in recent Oscar history: "Shakespeare in Love" and "Crash." Here are the past victors:

* = Oscar best-picture winner

2008 – "Slumdog Millionaire" *
2007 – "No Country for Old Men" *
2006 – "Little Miss Sunshine"
2005 – "Crash" *
2004 – "Sideways"
2003 – "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" *
2002 – "Chicago" *
2001 – "Gosford Park"
2000 – "Traffic"

1999 – "American Beauty" *
1998 – "Shakespeare in Love" *
1997 – "The Full Monty"
1996 – "The Birdcage"
1995 – "Apollo 13"

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Photos: "Shakespeare in Love" (Miramax), "Crash" (Lionsgate)

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