Screen Actors Guild wins highlight Denzel Washington, 'Hidden Figures' ahead of Oscars

(L-R) Actors Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Kirsten Dunst, co-recipients of the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award for 'Hidden Figures

The Screen Actors Guild endorsed Emma Stone, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali for its premier acting accolades and, by extension, presages the relevant Academy Awards, while ensemble winner "Hidden Figures" could provide an Oscar twist.

The Screen Actors Guild's ability for predicting which actresses and actors will go on to win widespread film industry recognition at the Academy Awards is second to none.

Over the past five years, 17 of 20 SAG winners in lead actress, lead actor, supporting actress and supporting actor have then won an Oscar in the same category.

If that holds true for the 89th Academy Awards on February 26, 2017, then three of its four acting Oscars could go to actors of African origin, one year on from the "Oscars So White" controversy.

Some 1,200 members of the Screen Actors Guild also comprise part of the 6,600 member Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and hence their voting power is rarely underestimated, nor the likelihood that SAG members vote the same way at the industry-spanning Academy Awards.

Heightening the potential parallels in 2017 is the fact that SAG's acting nominees were identical or nearly identical to the Academy's picks.

Denzel Washington won SAG's Best Actor award for his performance in "Fences," with Viola Davis -- arguably the movie's co-star -- receiving Best Supporting Actress.

Both categories' five nominees were identical to those at the Oscars, with Washington chosen over critics' award favorite Casey Affleck of "Manchester by the Sea," a juicy bit of intrigue ahead of the Oscars.

The SAG's Best Actress, Emma Stone of "La La Land," won in a group that displays the greatest variation from the Oscars' category, where Isabelle Huppert ("Elle") and Ruth Negga ("Loving") are present instead of Amy Adams ("Arrival") and Emily Blunt ("Girl on a Train.")

Best Supporting Actor went to Mahershala Ali of another Oscar tip, "Moonlight," and while the Oscar grouping has Michael Shannon of "Nocturnal Animals" instead of Hugh Grant ("Florence Foster Jenkins,") Ali's still considered frontrunner for the Academy statuette.

Where the Screen Actors Guild gala differs from the Oscars is that the SAG gala distributes a Cast award for ensemble performances -- the Oscar ceremony does not. It's an award that has gone to an eventual Best Picture Oscar winner six times in the last ten years.

Recent years have elevated its significance: the SAG called 2016's surprise Oscar victor "Spotlight" when both the Producers Guild and Directors Guild, usually the safer bets, did not.

Can "Hidden Figures" do the same in 2017 with "La La Land," "Manchester by the Sea" and "Moonlight" among eight other contenders?