Do the SAG Awards affect Oscar votes? I have this fantasy of jealous Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis conspiring to kill Natalie Portman's Oscar. --D.R., via the inbox
Yeah, I have no idea how that would work. Maybe one of your other personalities could help me out with the details.
Meantime, I have some very interesting insight about what tomorrow's Screen Actors Guild pageantry might mean for Natalie Portman, and the other Oscar front runners:
According to various sources, actors who score honors at the SAG Awards tend to take home corresponding Oscars about 75 percent to 80 percent of the time, with lead-actor SAG awards being slightly better indicators than supporting.
In fact, in some years, such as 2002, the SAG Awards were better overall Oscar predictors than the Golden Globes. (Of course there are always divergences; Javier "Biutiful" Bardem was ignored by SAG this year; Robert Duvall snagged the fifth Best Actor nomination instead, for Get Low.)
So yes, win the Actor and you're very likely to take home an Oscar.
However, and let's be clear here, they don't win Oscars because they won Actors. Oscar votes aren't swayed by what goes down at the SAG Awards, they just usually like the same performances. Many of those voters are, after all, the same people.
In fact, assuming anything more might be a mistake for those who like to bet on Oscars.
Take this onetime observation from former Entertainment Weekly editor Mark Harris, who has spoken with many Oscar voters:
"No one who votes says, 'I'm waiting to see what happens in the other races.' The only way the SAG Awards can have an influence is if someone wins and makes an egregiously stupid or offensive acceptance speech, then there could be a backlash."
As for your fantasy, well, technically, it could happen.
SAG Award nominees are determined by a few thousand union card carriers, but the final winners are determined by a full membership of tens of thousands of actors--and that group includes Kunis and Timberlake.