La La Land is being seen as the clear front-runner for this year's Academy Awards, however, Hidden Figures just took a big step toward showing that it's not going down without a fight. Last night, the Screed Actors Guild gave out their annual awards and this year the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture went to Hidden Figures. This sets the movie up in a strong position going against the Damien Chazelle directed musical. The reason this is a big deal for the upcoming Oscars is because the SAG awards are chosen by actors, who also make up the largest block of Oscar voters.
The Screen Actors Guild awards focus solely on acting, as the name implies, and as such, they don't have a Best Picture category. The closest they come is their award for the ensemble cast of a motion picture. This year's nominees were Captain Fantastic, Fences, Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight.
Most Academy Awards categories are voted on by the members of the Academy that work in that particular discipline, however, every member of the Academy gets to vote on Best Picture. However, since actors make up the majority of the Academy, if the majority of them feel a certain way, they have the power to influence the overall vote in a major way. If most SAG members carry their vote for Hidden Figures over to their Oscar ballot as well, it could mean that the presumed favorite, La La Land may not dance its way to the award after all.
Of course, it does need to be pointed out that La La Land was not a nominee for this particular award, so it's difficult to say how the two would do if they had gone head to head. The lack of a nomination shouldn't be an indication of anything either. La La Land doesn't really have an ensemble cast so much as it has two actors who lead the thing and a couple of others who might be lucky to have more than one scene. It doesn't really qualify for the award from a technical standpoint, it's not an indication of the acting performances of those that are in the film.
Still, this is a big win for Hidden Figures which certainly makes it a major contender for the coveted Best Picture award. Here are the rest of the SAG movie winners.
We'll just have to see how the Oscars actually turn out when the gold statues are given out on February 26.