Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Screen Actors Guild: Nominations & Reaction

This year the Screen Actors Guild Nominations and Golden Globe nominations occur just a day apart, giving the biggest indicator as to what/who will be nominated at the Oscars in January.

The SAG nominations are below, along with reactions and pre-nomination analysis.


• “The Artist”
• “Bridesmaids”
• “The Descendants”
• “The Help”
• "Midnight in Paris"

Reaction: I don't consider "Midnight in Paris" a particularly meaty ensemble, so this is probably more about them appreciating the film. Poor "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" looks a goner this awards season.

Prediction score: 4/5, missing “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” for "Midnight in Paris."

Prediction Summary: I may be dropping the ball here by not predicting “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” for anything, but aren’t they risking things greatly with this last-gasp grab for attention? As I was reliably informed on Twitter this week, even “Million Dollar Baby” had screened for most of the press by the end of November. In any case, neither Daldry’s film, nor Scorsese’s “Hugo,”nor Spielberg’s “War Horse” seem like the immediate go-to-feature for ensemble prizes, peppered with veteran actors here and there, but essentially led by youngsters. It might finally be time for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”and its British thespian talent to join the precursor party, but it’s unclear whether anyone has particularly taken to the film.

“The Artist,” “The Descendants, “ and “The Help” are probably the three wisest predictions for an eventual Oscar winner, and they’ve all got sufficient enough cast lists (John Goodman, James Cromwell and Malcolm McDowell give the former a leg up here) to comfortably make this guild’s lineup. And why not “Bridesmaids,” which nearly everyone liked, and which boasts a wonderful set of comedic performers?

Leading Actress:

• Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
• Viola Davis, "The Help"
• Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
• Tilda Swinton, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
• Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn”

Reaction: So Glenn Close has clout! This was a game-saver, given that I don't particularly think the Globes are going to go for this film in as big a way. If they don't, this is gonna be a mighty unpredictable year in this category.

Prediction score: 4/5, missing Close for Charlize Theron, who this hurts a little but who still has a chance.

Prediction summary: This could well be what the eventual Oscar lineup looks like, but realistically this could go any-which-way-but Mara (kidding!) Davis, Streep, and Williams all look strong, while Theron and Swinton look fairly comfortable – even with characters and films that will inevitably deter some from investing fully. I’d suggest watching out for the hot trio of Elizabeth Olsen, Felicity Jones, Kirsten Dunst as spoilers to the party, or of course that veteran Actress with gender-swapping credentials, but currently without any precursor support.

Leading Actor:

• Demian Bichir, "A Better Life"
• George Clooney, “The Descendants”
• Leonardo Di Caprio, "J. Edgar"
• Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
• Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

Reaction: *sigh* I often find that SAG opt for blander, more uniform choices than even the Academy can tend to. Di Caprio fits the bill on this occasion, but it's nice to see Demian Bichir's accomplished performance in a tiny film gather some awards traction. This is awfully crowded, isn't it?

Prediction score: 3/5, since I mistakenly thought that those fans gunning for Fassbender and Shannon would bring about some much-needed nuance in this lineup.

Prediction summary: You would think Gary Oldman would be able to make a dent in this category, given the overdue status and immense appreciation for him in the industry, but this is going to be tough. Fassbender and Shannon appear to be sharing the spoils in the lesser-seen-actor-to-champion stakes, and so Oldman, along with Harrelson, may well have to go without. A Dujardin snub isn’t out of the question, but if it happened it wouldn’t be that disastrous for him, since the Oscar could still be his with a three-way split.

Supporting Actress:

Berenice Bejo, “The Artist”
• Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
• Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
• Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
• Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

Reaction: Wow. It's good to see the best Chastain performance singled out in as important an Oscar precursor as this one. They clearly appreciated "Albert Nobbs" much more than critics, although they also went for "Get Low" last year, which eventually got shuffled out of the mix. Can the excellent Melissa McCarthy hold on for Oscar, despite the crass role and inherent comedy bias?

Prediction score: 2/5, and I'm glad to be. Apart from Redgrave's snub, the guild definitely got this category as right as they could have.

Prediction summary: This “The Tree of Life” isn’t an obvious pick for an ensemble prize, but actors’ sensibilities may still be more attuned to this film than something like “The Help,” which could pose problems for Chastain’s perceived chief assault on a Supporting actress nomination. I’d be very surprised if an actors guild didn’t warm to the serious chops of Redgrave’s performance in “Coriolanus,” even if the film doesn’t have a particularly high profile.

Supporting Actor:

• Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"
• Armie Hammer, "J. Edgar"
• Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
• Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
• Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”

Reaction: It's especially great to see Nick Nolte singled out for his excellent performance in "Warrior." Hammer and Hill were considerably off the radar (for entirely different reasons) but this gives them a definite leg-up. Kenneth Branagh should be fairly safe now.

Prediction score: 1/5. Disastrous, but there were an awful lot of guys in the mix. I should have predicted Branagh.

Prediction summary: With regard to Pitt, refer to what I said earlier about “The Tree of Life.” From there: Kingsley and Forster have small roles in big films, and there isn’t an awful lot of competition around. Beyond Brooks and Plummer this is rather a wildcard category.

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