How the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards Change the Oscar Acting Races

This update is part of our 2023 Oscar predictions series. Check out our full predictions in all Oscar categories.

There were some big moments at yesterday’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, including some surprises which have implications on the Academy Awards acting races (in three of the four acting categories, anyway).

To begin with, Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Actor for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Not the least bit surprising, and this notch in Quan’s awards season belt (the most recent of many) means that he is pretty much unstoppable as we head to Oscar night. Another actor winning in his stead would be the biggest upset of this year’s Academy Awards.

Meanwhile, other acting races have shifted a bit. Brendan Fraser won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, after his Oscar stock had cooled a bit through the past few weeks. Going into Sunday, many had put the front-runner status in this category on Austin Butler. This win for Fraser gives his campaign the revitalization it needed. There is still a tight race ahead, but, as we make this final turn, Fraser and Butler have cemented their places as the two lead horses in this race, with everyone else trailing pretty far behind.

In Best Actress in a Leading Role, Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) beat proposed front-runner Cate Blanchett (Tár). Blanchett and Yeoh have been neck-and-neck in most races this year, and Blanchett has managed to win the big ones up to this point. Yeoh winning here makes this race interesting. It’s a coin-flip match-up now, with Yeoh maybe having the razor-thinnest of an edge just because Everything Everywhere is having a much better awards season overall when compared with Tár. And Jamie Lee Curtis gushing over Yeoh in her acceptance speech doesn’t hurt any, either.

Finally, we come to Best Supporting Actress. Hours after this outlet jumped on the Angela Bassett bandwagon, her bee-line to the Oscars got upended. And while l did acknowledge the dark horse potential of Jamie Lee Curtis in that article, her win at the SAGs leaves me more befuddled about her chances than more confident in her potential. Strangely, this might be less of a question of whether Curtis wins the Oscar now and more a question of does this give Kerry Condon a stronger path to it.

Condon was the favorite for the award at one point, before Bassett’s stock rose. The race became a two-horser. Until now, that is. Bassett losing here does not mean she can’t win the Oscar — although, as I’ve previously argued there are members of the Academy who just won’t vote for a Marvel picture in an “above the line” category. The SAG not going to either of the front-runners likely benefits the person who had been in second place. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it does in my mind. The race has now opened up, which is a more precarious thing for the perceived number one (i.e., Bassett) than it is for the perceived number two (i.e., Condon).

Or maybe Jamie Lee Curtis surprises and wins the Oscar, as well. I wouldn’t be mad about that. On the flip side, Bassett deserves a legacy award, too, whether it’s for a superhero movie or not. But now we’re drifting into my opinion, which counts for nothing as far as the Academy Awards are concerned.

Everything Everywhere had something of a sweep at this year’s SAGs, winning three of the four major individual categories and the award for Best Ensemble. This could translate into good things come Oscars night. The acting branch of the Academy, although it is just one branch of many, is legion. They are the branch with the biggest membership. If a similar acting category mini-sweep happens at the Oscars, that means the film is winning more awards on top of that.

As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)


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