All awards seasons lead to the Oscars, but for an actor or actress to stand on the Dolby Theatre stage (or as is most likely the case this year, accept the statuette virtually), the Golden Globes and SAG awards are the two most influential precursors.

The SAG Awards have existed since 1995 and quickly established themselves as a place where an actor or actress would be recognized by their peers, due to its large crossover with AMPAS voters. In the past 20 years, only three people have won an Academy Award for acting without garnering, at minimum, a nomination from both the Globes and the SAGs: Marcia Gay Harden for 2000’s “Pollock” in supporting actress (missed Globes and SAG), Christoph Waltz for 2012’s “Django Unchained” in supporting actor (missed SAG) and Regina King for 2018’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” in supporting actress (missed SAG). In the King and Waltz cases, their films were late-breakers in their respective seasons, and the lack of screeners reaching voters in time factored into their omissions.

This year, studios and strategists are still hopeful that their contenders can get nominated and go the distance to a win.

In best actor, Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Anthony Hop-kins (“The Father”) and Gary Oldman (“Mank”) have shown up in both groups. Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”) landed a Globe nom, while Steven Yeun (“Minari”) nabbed a SAG nod. With a handful of critics’ wins, Delroy Lindo (“Da 5 Bloods”) looked like a sure thing and a possible spoiler for the Oscars, especially if Boseman became a favorite for supporting actor for the same film — but he was snubbed by both the Golden Globes and SAG.

In best actress, four women have emerged as locks for nominations — Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”), Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) and Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”). The groundswell and support for 86-year-old Sophia Loren was palpable when her film “The Life Ahead,” directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, dropped in November. Still, the first winner for a foreign-language performance missed out on both bodies, when a Globe nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. should have been an easy get. Despite mixed reviews for “Malcolm & Marie,” some still believe in the star power of Zendaya. As for Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), she felt like a potential spoiler earlier in the season, before the reviews dropped, but her chances of winning now
seem unlikely.

With this awards season being as unconventional as ever, pundits and prognosticators need to be prepared for any surprises.

Here is the current list of the top acting contenders, in both lead and supporting categories, that don’t have a SAG nomination but could garner a lot of support from the acting branch.

  • Ben Affleck, “The Way Back” (Amazon Studios) – lead actor
  • Nicole Beharie, “Miss Juneteenth” (Vertical Entertainment) – lead actress
  • Ellen Burstyn, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix) – supporting actress
  • Sacha Baron Cohen, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios) – lead actor
  • Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Hulu) – lead actress
  • Dominique Fishback, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros) – supporting actress
  • Jodie Foster, “The Mauritanian” (STXfilms) – supporting actress
  • Yeri Han, “Minari” (A24) – lead actress
  • Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix) – lead actor
  • Sophia Loren, “The Life Ahead” (Netflix) – lead actress
  • Mads Mikkelsen, “Another Round” (Samuel Goldwyn Films) – lead actor
  • Bill Murray, “On the Rocks” (A24/Apple TV Plus) – supporting actor
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, “French Exit” (Sony Pictures Classics) – lead actress
  • Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios) – supporting actor
  • Tahar Rahim, “The Mauritanian” (STXfilms) – lead actor
  • Saoirse Ronan, “Ammonite” (Neon) – supporting actress
  • Amanda Seyfried, “Mank” (Netflix) – supporting actress
  • David Strathairn, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – supporting actor
  • Stanley Tucci, “Supernova” (Bleecker Street) – supporting actor
  • Glynn Turman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix) – supporting actor
  • Zendaya, “Malcolm & Marie” (Netflix) – lead actress

Oscar predictions have been updated in the top six categories.

Academy Awards Predictions (All Categories)

  • 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture
  • 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Director
  • 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor
  • 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress
  • 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor
  • 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

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