By Francisco Salazar ( | First Posted: Jan 19, 2014 09:10 AM EST
Tags oscars

(Photo : Sony/ Columbia )

With the Screen Actors Guild awards handed out, "American Hustle" may now be the front-runner to win the Best Picture of the year at the Oscars.

The SAG awards are important precursor awards because 20 percent of the Academy voters are part of SAG. SAG has become more relevant in the past eight years because five of the past eight films to win Best Ensemble have gone on to win Best Picture.

The turning point was in 2006 when "Crash" defeated front-runner "Brokeback Mountain." While Ang Lee's film "Brokeback" had won the Producers Guild of America, the Directors Guild and Writers Guild awards, the SAG loss was the turning point in the awards race. "Crash" ended up winning the Oscar, surprising every pundit.

This year "American Hustle" is nominated for all four guild awards and has already won one out of the four awards. If the movie is able to conquer the next three guilds it will be the automatic Best Picture winner. "No Country for Old Men" and "Argo" are among the Best Picture winners to have won all four guilds while taking home Best Picture.

Meanwhile, "12 Years a Slave" was only nominated for three out of the four guilds. The WGA regarded the John Ridley script for "12 Years a Slave" as ineligible. The only film to have won only two guilds in the past eight years and still win the Oscar was "The Departed." That film won The DGA and WGA. However, it failed to win at the PGA and SAG awards. 

It is important to note that the SAG awards are not always accurate when electing a winner. The guild sometimes chooses star-studded casts. This was evident in 2012 when "The Help" won the SAG over "The Artist." The same occurred in 2010 when "Inglorious Basterds" won over Oscar Best Film winner "The Hurt Locker."

"American Hustle" has a huge lead at the moment but anything can change when the BAFTA, DGA and SAG choose their winners.

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