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Actors' guild fete box-office hits

Each film nominated for the top Screen Actors Guild award was a big box-office hit, a bellwether of how the Oscars in 2019 will swing.

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Lady Gaga and US actor and filmmaker Bradley Cooper at the UK premiere in London of A Star is Born. The music romance reboot earned Cooper a nod for Best Actor, Gaga for Best Actress and Sam Elliott for Best Supporting Actor. The fourth nomination was for Best Cast.

IF Wednesday's Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nominations serve as a traditional Oscars bellwether, there's good news for an academy worried about falling ratings for the Oscars: Each movie nominated for the top SAG Award was a big box-office hit, and many major stars will be in the mix.

But where there's good news, there's also bad news for a handful of performers and movies - including some presumed award-season front runners - hoping to make a strong showing at the SAG Awards to indicate positive Oscar momentum. Unlike many of the other awards organisations to weigh in this season, SAG is full of actors, who also make up the largest voting body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Where they go, Oscar often will, too.

Let's take a look at the five film categories and analyse the surprises - and snubs:

Best Supporting Actress

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Amy Adams, Vice
Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place
Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Why not begin with the most prediction-defying category? Many pundits favour Regina King to take the Oscar for her warm performance as the mother in If Beale Street Could Talk, but the fact that she didn't even receive a SAG nomination probably scuttles that notion and could suggest that Amy Adams will finally take home her first Oscar.

Instead of King or First Man actress Claire Foy in this category, SAG voters gave us category-frauded Emily Blunt for A Quiet Place and Margot Robbie in Mary Queen of Scots, two movies that had not bagged significant acting nominations until now.

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

On the other hand, the supporting-actor category went relatively according to plan, and after a startling snub by the Golden Globes, Sam Elliott found himself back in the race.

That meant no purchase for Globe-nominated Sam Rockwell in Vice, or for two memorable villains: Michael B Jordan in Black Panther and Daniel Kaluuya in Steve McQueen's heist thriller Widows.

The latter film was shut out by SAG entirely, as it was by the Globes. At this point, even a single Oscar nomination for Widows would surprise.

Best Actress

Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Could this very well be our final five for Oscar? I'm tempted to think so. The only slight surprise here is double SAG nominee Blunt, but she's very strong in Mary Poppins Returns and will only get stronger as the movie is released. Had Roma star Yalitza Aparicio shown up here, that would have been a boon to the overall Oscar chances for Alfonso Cuaron's acclaimed black-and-white film, but SAG voters didn't give a single one of their movie nominations to Netflix.

Best Actor

Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

The nomination is a big win for Washington, who joins four well-established stars in the category. After Wednesday, First Reformed actor Ethan Hawke has got to be considered the dark horse for inclusion: Though he's picked up plaudits from critics' groups, neither SAG nor the Globes gave him a nomination.

At least we know the academy likes him, because he's received four Oscar nominations (two for acting, and two for screenwriting).

Best Cast

A Star Is Born
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
Crazy Rich Asians

Last year, three of the films nominated by SAG in this category went on to earn an Oscar nomination for best picture, and I'd expect the same this year for A Star Is Born, Black Panther, and BlacKkKlansman. The cast nod for Bohemian Rhapsody here is surprising, given that it's essentially the Malek show, but I spoke to many members of the SAG nominating committee who loved the film. Crazy Rich Asians has the sort of success-vetted ensemble that SAG likes to recognise, but without a supporting-actress nomination for Michelle Yeoh, I don't expect it to make an Oscar dent.

I'm surprised The Favourite didn't make it into this category, since its three actresses were all nominated and SAG clearly liked the movie. A Star Is Born did earn that nod, despite an even more intimate focus, so we can assume it's sitting pretty for Oscar.

Still, there's a sliver of hope out there for The Favourite, as well as movies such as Vice and Green Book: While it's incredibly rare for a film to win best picture without a SAG nomination for its ensemble, the second time that ever happened was just last year, with The Shape of Water. NYTIMES