"Silver Linings Playbook" cast members Bradley Cooper, left,… (Kevin Winter / Getty Images )
There are many paths to take to winning this year's best picture Oscar. For David O. Russell's critically praised dramedy "Silver Linings Playbook," that road had better include a stop at the winner's podium to collect the Screen Actors Guild's ensemble award on Sunday night.
We offer this do-or-die proposition assuming that either "Lincoln" or "Argo" takes the Producers Guild's best picture prize on Saturday. Since the PGA winner has gone on to win the Oscar the last five years, whichever movie emerges victorious will immediately assume the mantle of Oscar front-runner. And should that PGA winner also collect SAG's ensemble award, then the proverbial fat lady will have sung the best picture race's final note.
But we're guessing one movie won't be two-stepping its way through the weekend. For the SAG motion picture cast award, we're placing our bets on Weinstein Co.'s persuasive ways and the fact that the group honored "Silver Linings" with three individual nominations for cast members Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro. Yes, "Lincoln" received three, too, but look at the name of the movie. "Lincoln." One name. Yes, we know it's anything but a one-man show, but the fact remains that "Silver Linings" sports more of an ensemble feel. It's close. Both "Argo" and "Les Miserables" have a shot at this too. But we like "Silver Linings" to establish its best-picture beachhead here.
Film actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln." At this point, we've pretty much run out of ways to explain why Day-Lewis will win particular awards this year. He just does, OK? He's our greatest actor. People like affirming that.
Film actress: Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook." Jessica Chastain remains a threat, but "Silver Linings" showcases its actors in a more prominent way, which carries a lot of weight with this voting group.
Film supporting actor: It's a coin flip between De Niro and "Lincoln's" Tommy Lee Jones. Since it's De Niro's first nomination, we suspect SAG voters will follow through and take the opportunity to honor him.
Film supporting actress: Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables." And we're guessing you already knew that.
On the television side, SAG voters typically play it safe.
Drama ensemble: "Homeland." Make-good award after losing to "Boardwalk Empire" last year.
Drama actor: Damian Lewis, "Homeland." Make-good award after losing to "Boardwalk's" Steve Buscemi last year.
Drama actress: Claire Danes, "Homeland." Make-good award after losing to "American Horror Story's" Jessica Lange last year. (Notice a pattern?)
Comedy ensemble: "Modern Family." Hat trick.
Comedy actor: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock." Every fiber in our being tells us that Louis C.K. must win this. Except for this: Baldwin has won for every single year of "30 Rock." You think we're going to pick against that kind of voter laziness?
Comedy actress: Would you believe that Betty White has won this two years running for "Hot in Cleveland"? We neither. Because that can't possibly happen again (no disrespect, but seriously?), we'll go with Sofia Vergara edging Golden Globes co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. And, yes, White. We'd be crazy to rule her out completely.
The 'Argo' factor in this year's Oscars fest
The Envelope Screening Series: 'Silver Linings Playbook'
The Gold Standard: Odds on animated, doc and foreign-language films
LIST: Complete list of 2013 nominees