Earlier this morning in Los Angeles, California the Screen Actors Guild announced their annual awards in film and television. Being the first out of the gate in terms of major awards shows (versus critic groups) allows you to both make a strong statement and potentially miss things that you wish you had considered more seriously after all. The SAG has always illustrated that they have their favorites and like to honor their well liked peers, and they are only a predictor of what is to come with the Academy Awards to a point. Let’s take a look at the nominations…
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:
Bruce Dern as Woody Grant in Nerbaska
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyers Club
Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines in Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:
Cate Blanchett as Jasmine in Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone in Gravity
Judi Dench as Philomena Lee in Philomena
Meryl Streep as Violet Weston in August: Osage County
Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Barkhad Abdi as Muse in Captain Phillips
Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda in Rush
Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps in 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini as Albert in Enough Said
Jared Leto as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn Rosenfeld in American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts as Barbara Weston in August: Osage County
June Squibb as Kate Grant in Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey as Gloria Gaines in Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
12 Years a Slave
August: Osage County
Dallas Buyers Club
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Perhaps the most immediately noticeable occurrence above is the lack of any support for The Wolf of Wall Street. This should not come as a surprise, however, as the film was finished late and only barely screened for SAG members. Like Django Unchained last year, Wolf cut it too close for SAG consideration and thus films that had been seen by a wider variety of members were favored instead. As we all know, Django went on to receive many Oscar nominations, including winning Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz who was not SAG nominated at all. Do not count The Wolf of Wall Street out in any way simply based on SAG.
The SAG tends to favor their peers, friends, and people they like. The support for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, then, should not come as a surprise as both Forest Whittaker and Oprah are well liked individuals headlining a diverse cast of actors that have continually worked with many actors over the years. I remain hesitant about The Butler’s Oscar chances, as well as Whitaker’s, however I think it is safe to say that Oprah is in. The film is right in the SAG’s wheelhouse as it has a large ensemble of famous actors.
Continuing with that trend, August: Osage County made a strong showing. It is included in the ensemble category for the same reason The Butler is, although I am even more positive in this film’s case that it will not contend in the Best Picture category at the Oscars. Both Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts remain strong contenders, however, even if Roberts is committing category fraud.
The biggest surprise for me is the showing of Dallas Buyers Club in the ensemble category. McConaughey and Leto have both been racking up awards and buzz thus far, but the film itself has only been mildly regarded and the ensemble of that film is not particularly strong. I fully expected to see Saving Mr. Banks in its place.
As for Supporting Actor, here is a category with too many strong performances and not enough slots. Both Tom Hanks (Saving Mr. Banks) and Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) are waiting in the wings for Oscar nominations, whereas Barkhad Abdi is now a legitimate and likely contender. The inclusion of James Gandolfini is simply wonderful (and deserved, regardless of his passing; it is a tender and soulful performance), but he has a strong history with SAG in the past and his Oscar nomination status is not set in stone. Daniel Brühl is an actor who was in the conversation very early on, and I think his inclusion here is simply a case of SAG voting so early in the season. At this point I am only comfortable saying that Jared Leto and Michael Fassbender are “locks” for Oscar nominations.
Similarly, Lead Actor is a stacked category and the lack of Robert Redford comes as a surprise. He is something of a recluse, though, and he has not done significant work for a long time so perhaps he simply didn’t have the friends to get him voted in here. As mentioned above, Whitaker is well liked and has worked with a lot of actors over the past few years.
Both Supporting and Lead Actress unfolded exactly as I expected and there are far less legitimate outside players than there are in the male races. Sigh.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Matt Damon as Scott Thorson in Behind the Candelabra
Michael Douglas as Liberace in Behind the Candelabra
Jeremy Irons as King Henry IV in The Hollow Crown
Rob Lowe as John F. Kennedy in Killing Kennedy
Al Pacino as Phil Spector in Phil Spector
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Angela Bassett as Coretta Scott King in Betty & Coretta
Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth Taylor in Burton and Taylor
Holly Hunter as G.J. in Top of the Lake
Helen Mirren as Linda Kenney Baden in Phil Spector
Elisabeth Moss as Robin Griffin in Top of the Lake
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy in The Newsroom
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones
Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood in House of Cards
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland
Anna Gunn as Skyler White in Breaking Bad
Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode in American Horror Story: Coven
Maggie Smith as Violet in Downton Abbey
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in Scandal
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock
Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth in Arrested Development
Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy in Modern Family
Don Cheadle as Martin Kaan in House of Lies
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy in Modern Family
Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in Veep
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Game of Thrones
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
It should be known that 30 Rock only aired 5 episodes in 2013, and to have such a strong showing here only goes to show the love and support the SAG has put on that show over the years. No matter, though, as it ultimately only takes one great episode to be noticed and the series finale of 30 Rock was terrific
The biggest surprise for me here is the lack of any support for Mad Men, and I find it particularly egregious especially seeing as how Homeland, a show that has received less than favorable buzz this year, is likely in its stead.
Netflix also only managed a decent showing here in the Drama categories, however Arrested Development impressed with an ensemble nomination and one for Jason Bateman. I am upset to not see Orange is the New Black represented here, because if ever there was a show that defined what an ensemble is it is that one.
The SAG awards are strange in Television because they do not separate lead from supporting, the opposite of what they do in film. This requires them to be extra picky and supporting actors are thus often forgotten. That being said, this is a relatively decent crop of nominees and I will never be upset to see Kerry Washington nominated for an acting award for Scandal.
What are your thoughts? How do you see the SAG nominations in film affecting the Oscar race, if at all? Will you be watching the ceremony when it airs on January 18th?