5:27pm PT by Scott Feinberg
SAG Awards: 7 Films That Could Take Ensemble Honors
In no particular order...
1. THE IDES OF MARCH
Why It Could Win: It's hard to imagine that SAG members won't get behind this drama starring Ryan Gosling as a political operative surrounded by an incredible assemblage of actor's actors, most in the prime of their careers. Added bonus: They were directed by an actor, George Clooney, who earned four SAG TV drama ensemble awards during his run on ER.
Why It Could Lose: Fairly or unfairly, its buzz hasn't been great since it screened in Venice and Toronto. A movie about American politics probably should have opened in New York.
2. THE ARTIST
Why It Could Win: This novelty item -- a black-and-white silent film -- has turned out to be the biggest crowd-pleaser of 2011, charming suspicious audiences at nearly every film festival it has played since its Cannes debut in May.
Why It Could Lose: Stars Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, who have more screen time by far than any other castmembers, are still no-names in the U.S. and haven't mastered enough English to campaign to the fullest extent.
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3. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Why It Could Win: As a weary spymaster, Gary Oldman sleuths around a supporting cast loaded with very British actors -- from rising talents like Tom Hardy to Colin Firth, a bona fide star and last year's SAG best actor winner for The King's Speech. That should help this adaptation of the John le Carre novel win over the Anglophiles in the house.
Why It Could Lose: The film's incredibly dense plot loses a lot of viewers. Take a bathroom break at your peril.
4. THE DESCENDANTS
Why It Could Win: The film that goes on to win the best picture Oscar almost always shows up in the SAG ensemble category. At the moment, this film, which centers on a family under duress, is probably best positioned to go all the way with the Academy.
Why It Could Lose: Clooney is a household name, but practically none of his co-stars -- such as Shailene Woodley, who plays his older daughter -- can say the same. In fact, many are relative newcomers. That can affect the film's chances negatively as many SAG voters prefer to back performers who they know and with whom they have worked.
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5. THE HELP
Why It Could Win: Practically everyone has seen this breakout hit based on Kathyrn Stockett's best-selling novel about race relations in the Deep South. The drama features a sprawling cast of actresses, including Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer, that is admirably diverse in terms of age and race.
Why It Could Lose: The one area in which it lacks diversity -- and could hurt the film, considering the demographics of SAG -- is gender. Will men support a film with so few male characters?
Why It Could Win: Another movie featuring a cast composed almost entirely of women -- of all colors, shapes and sizes -- this is an escapist, laugh-a-minute blast.
Why It Could Lose: Comedies are never taken as seriously as dramas during awards season, and a comedy as broad as this -- one that doesn't shy away from gross-out jokes -- could be ignored despite the laughs earned by funny ladies like Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph.
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7. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Why It Could Win: Woody Allen, of course, knows how to strike the right balance of romantic comedy punctuated by the occasional pratfall. For this Gallic-flavored fantasy, he gathered an impressive trans-Atlantic cast of American and French actors, from All-American star Owen Wilson to recent Oscar winner Marion Cotillard to France's first lady, Carla Bruni.
Why It Could Lose: Apart from Wilson, many of the actors appear only in cameos as the movie toggles between contemporary Paris and its artistic salons of the 1920s -- but then, c'est la vie.