"Beasts of the Southern Wild," a winner among critics earlier this year, may already be a loser at next year's Screen Actors Guild awards.
The film, about a little girl and her father surviving in a flooded Southern Delta community, was widely praised for the ferocious performances of its two first-time lead actors, young Quvenzhane Wallis and New Orleans baker Dwight Henry. But according to reports, director Benh Zeitlin did not make the film under the provisions of SAG contracts, rendering both actors ineligible for SAG awards.
The film is also ineligible for SAG's coveted "ensemble" award, which goes to a film's cast.
The film's distributor, Fox Searchlight, could still make the actors eligible for SAG awards, but that would likely mean paying them additional money. According to CBS News, a spokesman for Fox Searchlight said that won't happen.
What will this do to the film's Oscar chances? The SAG awards sometimes predict the Oscar acting awards, and an ensemble win sometimes predicts a best picture Oscar. But many actors shut out by SAG have gone on to Oscar nominations, including Marcia Gay Harden in "Pollock" and Gary Oldman in "Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy."
If anything, the minor controversy could help position "Beasts" as an underdog outsider, such as "Winter's Bone" and "Juno."