What does it say about the awards-prognostication racket when nobody except yours truly (and, okay, Sasha Stone and Kris Tapley to some extent) was even toying with the possibility of A Better Life‘s Demian Bichir winning any kind of official Best Actor recognition, and then all of a sudden the Screen Actors Guild hands him a Best Actor nomination this morning?

A Better Life‘s Demian Bichir at a Los Angeles Film Festival party last summer, and as the “illegal” tree surgeon in Chris Weitz’s drama.

I’ll tell you what it means. It means that the Oscar-predicting smarty-pants set (i.e., the “Oscarologists,” as Tom O’Neil calls them) aren’t as attuned to the underlying currents as they’d have you believe. Their insect antennae has obviously been on-target a good percentage of the time, but they’re basically talking to themselves and sniffing each other asses. At the very least the Bichir nomination proves that they’re not getting out there and sniffing the asses of SAG members a la shoe-leather reporting.

Update from Sasha Stone: “Both Kris Tapley and I both were championing him. I predicted him to win in a last minute ‘no guts no glory’ on my site last night. Anyone reading it would have seen that. I’ve been campaigning for him for a while now to get attention.” Wells response: I apologized eariler today in advance for any overlooking of anyone who was on the Bichir train. “I try to read everything and everyone all day long and I didn’t see jack, but maybe I’m wrong,” I wrote. “I’m ready to amend this piece at a moment’s notice.”

I wasn’t expecting Bichir to be nominated this morning. Not a chance. I said a few days ago that a Best Actor Spirit award was probably his best shot. But the bottom line is that I don’t care that much about taking the pulse of the town and trying to predict this or that. In all modesty I believe that the town should be taking my pulse and giving serious consideration to my favorite contenders, and not the other way around.

I kept Demian Bichir’s name in my Oscar Balloon box (as a “special dispensation”) all these weeks because I think Bichir is an exceptional actor and a really nice guy, and because I felt all along that he’d delivered an exceptionally moving performance — a portrait of a disenfranchised laborer who nonetheless has dignity and resolve.

I just think there’s something a little bit lacking in the observational abilities of the Oscar prognosticators to have not even said “maybe….maybe this guy has a shot.”