Screen Actors Guild Awards 2016: 5 Reasons Why They Matter, Including Diverse Choices & More

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Most people will attest that the awards show that really matters is the Oscars: the glitz and glamour (even when overshadowed by a very intense debate about diversity) have made it the be-all and end-all of accolades. And while the Oscars are easily the most publicized awards show, it's far from the most significant.

The Screen Actors Guild may not get the same publicity, but industry insiders know that it sets the tone for awards season--and often acknowledges deserving films overlooked by the Academy. Here's why the SAG awards matter, and why you should make sure to tune in this Sunday.

They're More Diverse

Unless you've been avoiding all news for the past few weeks, you're aware that not single actor of color was nominated for an Oscar. Public outcry has been intense (coupled with the angry hashtag #OscarSoWhite and major stars boycotting the ceremony), and even the head of the academy has expressed her dismay over the shocking lack of diversity in the nominees. The Screen Actors Guild, on the other hand, has consistently shown itself to be more inclusive; Beasts Of No Nation, Straight Outta Compton, and Trumbo all received nods from the SAG awards.

They Embrace The Indies

Unless you're a big-budget film with massive star power and a major marketing budget, it's often hard to get the attention of the Oscars (or indeed any big awards show). But the Screen Actors Guild prides itself on seeking out and honoring films that might otherwise escape notice, often at the expense of big-screen successes. That might be the reason why Trumbo and Beasts of No Nation got a host of nominations, while major flicks like The Martian, The Hateful Eight, and Joy all were effectively shut out.

They're Full Of Surprises

Nobody expected Netflix to make a big splash this awards season, but SAG voters clearly are in tune with the culture of the time (and that means a love for streaming movies and shows). Netflix racked up an impressive number of nominations, with Orange Is The New Black, Daredevil, House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Beasts of No Nation, and A Very Murray Christmas all getting nods. Amazon got two nominations for its breakout hit Transparent. Clearly the SAG awards knows that streaming is here to stay.

They Help Predict The Oscars (Sometimes)

The SAG awards have long been believed to help determine who will walk away with a prize come Oscar night (despite inevitable mistakes from time to time). This year, however, the awards show has only succeeded in confusing an already large and challenging field of nominees; several Oscar favorites were totally overlooked, while underdogs dismissed by the Academy got numerous nods. Still, if someone wins at the SAG awards, it certainly helps their chances of earning a statue at the Oscars (at least statistically speaking).

The Acting Community Votes

Have you ever wondered who actually chooses the Academy Award winners? Although the membership of the Academy is not available to the public, the statistics on voters is downright depressing if you're looking for some diversity: 94% are white, 77% are male, and 54% are over the age of 60. Even more surprising, only 33% of voters were once nominees or winners themselves; so who is actually determining the movies declared the best in their field, and what are their qualifications?

Since the SAG Award winners are determined by actors and filmmakers themselves, many believe it's actually a better barometer for the best performances of the year. And with all the difficulties the Oscars have been experiencing as of late, maybe the Screen Actors Guild Awards is the show we should be watching to see which films truly rise above the crowd.

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