The non-professional cast of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is ineligible for the SAG Awards but that shouldn't hurt their Oscar chances
The cast of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" has been declared ineligible for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, but could that actually help their chances for Oscar notice?
The ruling was made because director Benh Zeitlin's critically acclaimed independent film — it won major awards at the Sundance Film Festival and at Cannes — was not produced under a SAG contract.
Fox Searchlight, which acquired distribution rights to the film after it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, wasn't talking Monday. The company wouldn't address the film's awards chances or whether it would seek to bring the film into compliance with the regulations to make it eligible for the SAG Awards.
"The producers have until Oct. 25 to bring the film under compliance to make the actors eligible for consideration,' SAG Awards show producer Kathy Connell said. "It is their choice whether or not to do so. We hope they do."
Even if Fox Searchlight did try to remedy the situation, which could involve making payments to the actors to bring them up to contract scale, it's unlikely the film's foreign distributors would see the SAG Awards as worth any extra cost.
But the recent history of Oscar honoring actors who were snubbed by SAG has to offer some solace. And there remains a good chance that 8-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, who stars in "Beasts" with fellow non-pro Dwight Henry, might still become the youngest belle of the Oscar ball.
While the Oscar voters do frequently follow the lead of the SAG voters — many cast ballots for both awards — they often do not. Gary Oldman ("Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"), Rooney Mara ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") and Max von Sydow ("Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close") were all nominated for supporting or lead acting Oscars last year despite being passed over by SAG voters.
It's possible that some Oscar voters would be more aware of, and possibly more inclined to vote for, the "Beasts" cast members if they are perceived to have been unfairly targeted by SAG.
If Wallis does earn a nomination from the Academy, she would become the youngest best actress nominee ever. That distinction is currently held by Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was cited for her work in 2002's "Whale Rider" when she was just 13.
Nominations for the 2013 SAG Awards will be announced on Wednesday, Dec. 12, and the awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, Jan. 27. Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 10, and the Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24.