5 reasons why Bradley Cooper (‘Maestro’) will win at the SAG Awards

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After the results of the first two major Oscar precursor ceremonies, this year’s Best Actor race, to many, looks to be a two-horse race: Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”) was victorious at both the Golden Globes in the comedy category and at the Critics’ Choice Awards. Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”) took home the Drama Globe, edging out the frontrunner, Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”). Going into the SAG Awards, Murphy still leads our odds, with six of our experts currently backing the Irishman. Giamatti follows closely behind with the support of four experts. Cooper sits on the outside right now with the support of a pair of pundits. Despite Cooper’s faltering at those precursors, he is still very much in this race. Here are five reasons why he will win the SAG Award against the odds.

He’s an A-list star
From his breakout in “The Hangover” trilogy to the likes of “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Limitless,” “American Sniper,” to his directorial debut “A Star Is Born,” Cooper has proved time and time again to be one of the most marketable leading men working in Hollywood. This popularity gives him a significant advantage with the vast voting membership of SAG-AFTRA, of which there are currently over 160,000. Sure, Cooper wasn’t the top pick for the past two voting bodies, but the Golden Globes Journalists are not part of the industry. Nor are the members of the Critics Choice Association.

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He’s long overdue
This is Cooper’s fourth individual bid from the Screen Actors Guild. He has seven nominations total and won for being part of the cast of “American Hustle.” Along with Cooper’s perpetuating overdue Oscar narrative (the 49-year-old now has 12 nods from The Academy) will aid the “Maestro” auteur in his bid for SAG glory.

He undergoes a physical transformation
Actors who transform into their characters have long been attractive to awards voters. SAG in particular has shown a sweet tooth for it. It is many actors’ dreams to fully lose themselves in a character and be completely unrecognizable. Voting for a fellow peer achieving this very feat scratches that itch. Physical transformations have helped actors edge out their competitors in tight races. This includes Brendan Fraser last year (“The Whale”), Jessica Chastain in 2022 (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”), Viola Davis in 2021 (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), and Eddie Redmayne in 2015 (“The Theory of Everything”).

He portrays a real-life person
In a similar way to physical transformations, actors love rewarding actors who embody real-life figures. This is especially true if the figure is well known. Not buying it? Just ask Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”). The aforementioned Chastain and Redmayne too. They each played famous real-life people and underwent a physical transformation to play their roles. Cooper wields this double whammy, playing the great Leonard Bernstein and donning a chameleonic physical transformation. The voice, the mannerisms, the conducting; Cooper is doing it all in “Maestro.”

He does the most acting
Awards season is never only about who gave the best performance. Because what does “best” even mean anyway? There are a lot of factors that go into it, but a key factor that has been shown to help candidates win prizes, particularly at SAG, is big “capital A” acting. Fellow actors love seeing their peers turn it up to 11. The yelling. The screaming. The crying. Cooper does all this in the film, along with a 6-minute live conducting scene in which he deftly recreated Bernstein’s famous 1976 performance of Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony No. 2 in the Cambridgeshire cathedral. It is a towering cinematic achievement that will go down in the history books. It might just secure Cooper his first individual SAG Actor trophy too.

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