Screen Actors Guild Nominations: Movie Nominees and (my) Reactions

E: Here’s the other biggest and next most important set of nominations before the Oscar nods come out.  SAG is a much larger voting body than the Academy, and their tastes don’t always coincide (SAG tends to be more wacky, certainly more appreciative of comedy, and AMPAS is some years stodgier and in others, edgier) but again, when the same names keep appearing, you start to understand where things are headed.  The Globes ten acting nominees are whittled down to five here, and that’s often a good indicator of who Oscar will favor.   Later I’ll take a look at their TV nominations (like the Globes, they do both), but for now, here’s what happened and what I think we can expect out of it:

Ensemble
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Nine
Precious

The Ensemble category is the SAG equivalent of Best Picture,  and it tells us a few things.  An Education appears here, which didn’t at the Globes.  The Hurt Locker, Precious and Inglourious Basterds have appeared in both places, and that bodes well for them.  Especially with ten places available in this year (and not to sound like a snob, but I can’t help thinking that sort of cheapens the brand) you have to think those three movies have a really solid lock.

A movie I’d have thought was a lock – and probably still is – does not appear on this list.  Two days ago Up in the Air was the Globe’s favorite movie with 6 nominations.  It’s exactly the sort of flick I’d expect SAG to go for – it’s heavy with impressive acting, it’s witty and light and fun.  SAG gave its Ensemble award to Sideways, after all, and you have to feel like these two are kin.  (You remember Sideways, right, that odd little love letter to pinot and whiny men?  Didn’t win Best Picture – which goes to show that SAG and Oscar have distinct tastes – but it was nominated.)  Anyway, I just don’t know what to do with that.  I expect it will still make the final cut, but I’d been sort of envisioning it as the possible frontrunner, and it’s very unusual for a movie to win the Oscar without even being nominated for the SAG Ensemble award.  Not impossible, but definitely a buzz kill.  I’m thrilled to see An Education here, though; that was a film I expected the Hollywood Foreign Press to like more than they did.   You can’t count it as an Oscar lock; were it any other year, I’d say you could almost count it out of Oscar contention, but with 10 slots, anything’s game.  Which leaves the star-studded musical Nine.  Any other year I’d count that one out, too, because the reviews imply the film’s promise has not been fulfilled, but again, it’s really hard to say.  So many variables!  It gives me a headache.

Invictus is missing from this list, too.  That’s a movie which is likely to make the Oscar long list.  Unlikely Up in the Air, I don’t really know that it can win Best Picture, so its snub here is less damaging.  Another notable omission from the Golden Globe Drama Best Picture slate is the would be blockbuster Avatar.  That’s going to be a curious one.  Remember 12 years ago when Titanic came out?  It had been delayed 6 months, it was the costliest movie ever, and people were saying it could either be a disaster or the best movie ever.  Most industry folks were betting it was a disaster.  We all know how that one turned out.  Will Avatar be the same sort of smash?  It’s got the same sort of confused buzz. Depends on how many women will show up to watch 10-foot-tall blue aliens fall in love, I think.  And I’m inclined to think that’s not as many as the producers would like.  And as I heard last night on the finale of So You Think You Can Dance,  the movie’s love theme (“I See You,” sung by Leona Lewis) is no “My Heart Will Go On.”  Still, I’m hoping the movie’s a good one.  What will this do to its Oscar chances?  The reviews and soon-to-be box office will probably determine that, rather than anything the Globes or SAG does.

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabby Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Now we’re getting down to it.  I’m going to shed a tear, right off, for Abby Cornish.  Please don’t forget her, AMPAS!  Why is everyone else forgetting her?  She was lovely!  She could be this year’s big surprise – Oscar does remember, every few years, the indie folks that the precursor awards forget.  Mulligan, Sidibe and Streep seem pretty locked in, and Bullock has the buzz, momentum, and good will in her favor.  That can be enough for a nomination, and sometimes even for a win (though that’s a story for another day).    Does that leave Mirren as the most vulnerable?  She’s made both short lists so far.  Does this mean that Emily Blunt can be counted out?  I can’t imagine she can win anything, but if her movie does really well at the box office and in reviews, and Bullock’s movie slips down out of sight, she might be able to make a play for it.  The lead actress race tends to be pretty static, though, with the candidates the same everywhere.  These could easily – more easily than not – be the five performances honored with Oscar nominations.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Jeremy Renner was snubbed by the Hollywood Foreign Press.  It’ll be interesting to see whether he, or A Serious Man‘s Michael Stuhlbarg, or even Nine‘s Daniel Day Lewis, or someone else ends up with that fifth nomination slot.  You can count Bridges, Clooney, Firth and Freeman as pretty solid candidates for Oscar.  If any of those four fail to make the list, it’ll be a big surprise.  Big surprises happen nearly every year (and hey, otherwise it would be boring, right?) but still, those guys have great chances.  This could be a huge moment for an unknown like Renner.  Clearly we all have to rent The Hurt Locker, wouldn’t you say?  It comes out January 12th, in case you were wondering.

Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Huh.  You might recognize this list.  It’s exactly the same one that the Globes came up with.  I was thinking that Harrelson was fluke – I hadn’t heard much about The Messenger – but apparently not.   So what can I say that I didn’t say two days ago?  Waltz has a good shot of winning.  I’m still happy to see Tucci and Plummer making the grade, and pleased for Damon, a very good actor who doesn’t always get the kudos he deserves.  Alfred Molina of An Education, it is looking more and more like you are plain out of luck.  We can’t count you out – and I honestly can’t say which actor I prefer in general between Harrelson and Molina (C: No contest! Molina!) – but man, this has to be another tough morning for you.  It’s so funny.  Some people have all this buzz going into the major award nominations and then poof!  Gone, never to return.  It’s puzzling.  It’s even more puzzling here because it’s clear that SAG really liked the film.  When I saw it on the Ensemble list, I assumed that Molina and even Peter Sarsgaard could be appearing here.  Wrong!   I wonder if they canceled each other out?

Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds
Mo’Nique, Precious

This is another pretty familiar list, with one extremely frustrating change; Julianne Moore was beat out by Diane Kruger.  I like Diane Kruger, don’t get me wrong, and I’m really looking forward to renting Inglourious Basterds (C: Yuck.), but I can’t really celebrate for her.  I’ve been so hoping that this was the year the Academy would wake up and say, wait, Julianne Moore doesn’t have an Oscar yet?  How can that be?  Egregious!  Appalling! Let’s rectify that mistake right now!    She was going to be this year’s Kate Winslet.  But it’s hard to do that without overwhelming force on your side, so to speak, and that happens when everyone nominates you, and stupid SAG did not nominate her!  Clearing the way for Mo’Nique to walk away with the award, perhaps…

I’m curious as to why Cruz beat out all the other gorgeous ladies in Nine.  I don’t have a problem with it (though I suppose I could when I see the film) but I’m definitely curious. (C: Cruz is way more of an awards favorite than I’ve ever understood.) Looks like Farmiga isn’t as vulnerable as I thought, which is cool.  It’s nice to see people who need it do well, you know?  It does sort of boggle the mind, though. Up in the Air gets three acting nominations; Invictus, Precious, Inglourious Basterds and The Last Station get two.   An Education, The Hurt Locker and Nine appear on the Ensemble list with only one nod a piece.  Why single out three actors from Up in the Air and then snub the movie as a whole?  (C: Not even that – the cast as whole.  That makes NO sense at all.)  Who knows how people vote, but it’s a strange and befuddling thing.  Like I said, it’s not going to stop Up in the Air from being nominated for Best Picture, but it might affect the film’s chances to win.

And there we are!  Thoughts on the TV nominations soon, as well as a recap of The Good Wife (love love love The Good Wife).  Good luck with all your holiday preparations, and see you back soon!

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6 comments on “Screen Actors Guild Nominations: Movie Nominees and (my) Reactions

  1. C says:

    I just watched the trailer for Avatar. I hadn’t known anything about it, except that it was a Big Deal. Gotta say, the whole mix-of-cartoon-and-real thing has yet to work for me in a dramatic story (discounting Gollum, since he’s the only important CG character and he’s so convincingly rendered). The blue people just look silly. And it’s funny to think of spending so much time, and so much money, to create a lavish visual spectacle and then using a plot that is nothing but a conglomeration of every “noble natives oppressed by greedy colonizers” cliche.

    • E says:

      That’s James Cameron for you. It’s not as if there was anything fresh about Titanic’s plot, either.

      • C says:

        You don’t have to tell me! I’m the one who wrote a near-identical story as part of a group project on Titanic in fifth grade. With the minor difference that the Jack character miraculously survived and showed up just in time to prevent the Rose character from marrying her evil fiance.

        Still, I’m disappointed that he couldn’t have injected SOMETHING fresh-sounding – or at least compelling-sounding – into the story of Avatar. A 2-hour & 40-minute film with the plot of Fern Gully? How could that be bearable?

        • Matt H says:

          I actually saw Avatar this past weekend. And I can confirm that the plot is ridiculously weak and full of holes. But visually it’s remarkable. It’s crucial to see it in 3D, and is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. (And I know, I know – I rolled my eyes at every review that said that same thing.) There’s a scene near the beginning, first visiting the jungle/forest, and the colors, the textures, the way the light shone through the trees… well, it’s just breathtaking.
          So – yeah. James Cameron likes to think he’s a great director and writer – unfortunately he only has it half right. But even though the story is weak, I’d still recommend it for the spectacle of it.

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