The critically acclaimed movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild, has been ruled ineligible for ineligible for the Screen Actors Guild Awards because it was not made under the terms of SAG–AFTRA‘s Low Budget FeatureAgreement, which mandates the use of professional actors. Because of budget constraints and wanting to keep to the authenticity of the movie, Beasts’ director, Benh Zeitlin, used locals who had never acted before and therefore were not SAG members. The film’s stars, Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry, will not be eligible for individual awards and the cast will not be eligible for an ensemble award, which is the equivalent to a best picture award. This issue may also affect the film’s Oscar chances because the SAG Awards sometimes have a huge impact on the Academy’s selections.
Although it is possible for Zeitlin to retroactively bring the film to SAG compliance, it would involve some heavy dollars. The film’s distributor, Fox Searchlight and other distributors to provide additional payment to the film’s actors. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this slight may not affect the movies chances at other award shows:
Just last year, three performances that were snubbed by SAG were nominated by the Academy: Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for best actor; Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for best actress; and Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for best supporting actor.
So the ineligibility of Beasts at the SAG Awards might not prove to be a great setback the film’s Oscar prospects. In fact, the coverage of its absence might even win it more attention than it otherwise would have had. Every year produces at least one darling of the indie circuit that winds up with several major Oscar nominations — recent examples being The Tree of Life (2011), Winter’s Bone (2010), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Juno (2007) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Beasts still could be that film this year.