Dave Karger: ''No Country'' builds momentum, while Ruby Dee shakes up the Best Supporting Actress category
Ruby Dee, Javier Bardem
Credit: Michael Caulfield/WireImage.com

How did the Screen Actors Guild results affect this year’s Oscar race? Let’s go category by category.

Best Cast
As the only SAG nominee to snag a Best Picture Oscar nod, No Country for Old Men was certainly the movie to beat for the night’s ultimate prize. That one of the bigger hits in the category (Hairspray, American Gangster) wasn’t able to upset it only strengthens its Oscar chances.

Best Actor
In a tight race, SAG voters often go with the more commercial choice (American Beauty‘s Annette Bening over Boys Don’t Cry‘s Hilary Swank, for instance). As with Best Cast, however, they chose a contender with lower box office: There Will Be Blood‘s Daniel Day-Lewis. Can anyone beat him? His gracious acceptance speech may have sealed the deal.

Best Actress
Given Little Miss Sunshine‘s success at the SAG Awards last year, I thought Juno‘s Ellen Page might have a shot over Julie Christie. But the Away From Her star’s victory only increased her lead in the overall race. Perhaps Juno‘s best shot will be for Diablo Cody’s screenplay.

Best Supporting Actor
No Country‘s brilliant Javier Bardem won. This race is now officially a yawn.

Best Supporting Actress
Finally, a race with some excitement. After Gone Baby Gone‘s Amy Ryan won the Critics’ Choice Award and I’m Not There‘s Cate Blanchett picked up the Golden Globe, 83-year-old Ruby Dee scored a SAG win with her minutes-long performance in American Gangster. SAG voters might have been going for the career-achievement thing with this one, so Dee isn’t necessarily the Oscar front-runner now. But it’s the most even major race this year.

(Want more on the Screen Actors Guild Awards? Read Annie Barrett’s take on last night’s ceremony.)