SAG Awards’ Surprise ‘Black Panther’ Victory Adds More Confusion to the Oscar Race

Screen Actors Guild voters reinforced that Glenn Close and Mahershala Ali are Oscar front runners, but the guild’s ensemble award made a messy race even messier

Black Panther Michael B Jordan Chadwick Boseman black panther ryan coogler director commentary
Marvel Studios

If the Screen Actors Guild voters had gone into Sunday night’s SAG Awards with no goal other than to mess up the Oscars Best Picture race, consider it mission accomplished.

By giving the ensemble-cast award to “Black Panther,” the Marvel blockbuster considered at best a long shot to win the top Oscar, SAG bypassed the opportunity to give a little momentum to “A Star Is Born” or “BlacKkKlansman,” either of which which would have gotten a boost with a SAG win.

The results are particularly troubling for “A Star Is Born,” which has now lost to “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the Golden Globes, “Roma” at the Critics’ Choice Awards, “Green Book” at the Producers Guild Awards and “Black Panther” at SAG.

It may be going too far to say this knocks Bradley Cooper’s remake out of the Oscar race, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which it could assemble the votes needed to win.

Does this make “Black Panther” the Oscar front runner? Absolutely not. But the SAG Award gives the film some ammunition to counter the perception that for a comic book movie, it’s an honor just to be nominated.

The movie that took the biggest hit was “Vice,” which went in with presumed front runners in Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Bale lost to Rami Malek for his role in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a win that should make him the Oscar favorite in a tight race with Bale and Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”).

And Adams, whose path to victory seemed clear when SAG failed to even nominate Golden Globes winner Regina Hall (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), lost to Emily Blunt (“A Quiet Place”) in the night’s biggest upset. Blunt can’t repeat at the Oscars because she’s not even nominated, but her victory suggests that the Oscar supporting-actress race is wide open, with King maybe having a slight edge.

In the other supporting race, Mahershala Ali continued his streak of victories for “Green Book,” and seems to have smooth sailing ahead. And Glenn Close, who was regarded as a Best Actress long shot until the moment she won the Golden Globe Award on Jan. 6, now seems to be the clear front runner for her first Oscar ever.

So let’s say this for SAG: The guild did add some clarity to two or three Oscar races. But the big one? Forget about it. All they did was take a messy race and make it messier.

And maybe more fun, too.