It was supposed to be a foregone conclusion: Casey Affleck, Best Actor Oscar. Until it wasn’t.
The Screen Actors Guild honoured Denzel Washington’s performance in Fences instead. And it was an upset. He might be Denzel Washington, a legend in the business, but Casey had basically taken every single other award leading up to last night. So Denzel’s surprise was genuine. You know it was a surprise with how the table reacted:
Denzel being Denzel though, as he said, “I didn’t even prepare… but I AM prepared”. That, right there, is why they actors voted for this particular actor. That statement sums up his reputation among his peers, thousands of actors who’ve worked with Denzel – and many of them were in the room last night (Remember The Titans!) – or who want to work with Denzel. So…what does this mean for Oscar?
Not all SAG-AFTRA members are Academy members. But all members of the acting branch of the Academy are SAG members. It’s also the branch with the most members. As EW noted, “for the last 10 years, the SAG Awards have correctly predicted the Oscar best actor winner 100 percent of the time”. Which means that the Fences Oscar campaign just received a major vote of confidence last night to keep pushing. They have Viola Davis locked in for Best Supporting Actress. And now they can build on Denzel’s SAG momentum because what the SAGs told us last night is that Casey Affleck, alleged sexual harasser, is vulnerable. Voting for the Oscars doesn’t open until February 13th. From now until then it’s all hustle. Now that the Best Actor category has become an actual race, well, Matt Damon has some work to do. Because Denzel wasn’t even trying and he still won last night. Imagine what will happen if he actually does?