December 12, 2012 7:48am PT by Scott Feinberg
What Film Buffs Need to Know About Today's SAG Award Nominations (Analysis)
SAG-AFTRA on Wednesday announced the nominees for the 19th annual SAG Awards, which will take place in Hollywood on Jan. 27. SAG nominations always have been highly coveted by Oscar hopefuls but never more so than this year. That's because the Academy's recent decision to move up its voting timetable means that Wednesday's announcement comes less than a week before the Academy begins selecting its own nominees Dec. 17. It is widely believed that many members of the latter group refer to the choices of the former when filling out their ballots.
Here is a look at key factoids, noteworthy inclusions and major snubs from SAG-AFTRA's announcement...
- Three films tied for the most nominations: DreamWorks' Lincoln (best ensemble, Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor, Tommy Lee Jones for best supporting actor and Sally Field for best supporting actress), Universal's Les Miserables (best ensemble, Hugh Jackman for best actor, Anne Hathaway for best supporting actress and best stunt work) and The Weinstein Co.'s Silver Linings Playbook (best ensemble, Bradley Cooper for best actor, Jennifer Lawrence for best actress and Robert De Niro for best supporting actor).
- It is important to remember, as we were the first to report back in October, that Fox Searchlight's Beasts of the Southern Wild was deemed ineligible for this year's SAG Awards categories because it was not made under the terms of SAG-AFTRA's Low Budget Feature Agreement -- meaning, essentially, that its cast, composed almost entirely of nonactors, was not paid guild wages. It is quite likely that Beasts will be a serious contender at other major awards shows.
- There was remarkably little "young blood" among this year's individual acting nominees; all 20 of them were widely known prior to this awards season. Indeed, 13 of them already have won an Oscar -- and four have won two!
The SAG Awards have been handed out since 1995. In the years since then, the guild's acting nominees and winners have predicted the Academy Awards' acting nominees and winners more consistently than any of the many other awards that collectively constitute "Oscar season." (Last year, for instance, the two groups agreed on 17 of their 20 acting nominees -- and that was a bad year; most years, they disagree on just one or two.) The best ensemble SAG Award has not, however, proved to be predictive of the best picture Oscar, probably because some SAG voters take it literally and award the film that they feel features the best large cast, whereas others regard as it a surrogate best picture category.
- Fox Searchlight's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for best ensemble, despite the fact that none of the actors who received a single-card listing in its credits -- and who therefore appeared on the SAG ballot -- is American: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Tom Wilkinson, and Maggie Smith. Older voters and/or voters based in the U.K. probably accounted for most of Its support base, not unlike past nominee -- and eventual winner -- Gosford Park, in which Smith also was featured.
- Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) for best actress, in another big coup for Searchlight, particularly considering that widespread perception was that the film and those associated with it had largely faded from the awards discussion.
- Javier Bardem (Skyfall) for best supporting actor, the first time that a performance in a James Bond has been honored with a SAG nomination. But it's not the first time Bardem has been recognized by SAG for portraying a villain; he won in the same category five years ago for his haunting performance in No Country for Old Men.
- Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) for best supporting actor, for his most widely acclaimed performance in years, marking the legend's first individual SAG Award nomination.
- Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy) for best supporting actress, for a tiny and eccentric indie film that hasn't been particularly well-reviewed or widely distributed. This probably is a testament to the value of having a big name on a screener or screening invitation when trying to persuade voters to check out your film over others.
- Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) for best supporting actress, for essentially playing a big-screen version of the bitter and acerbic character that she plays so well on the little-screen show Downton Abbey -- for which she also was nominated Wednesday.
Not being nominated for a SAG Award does not necessarily mean a contender will not be nominated for an Academy Award. Just ask Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), and Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), who overcame SAG snubs to Oscar nominations last year. Indeed, over the 18 years in which the former have been presented, 64 people who were not nominated for it still went on to be nominated for the latter -- or three or four per year, on average. It does, however, almost always mean that a contender will not win an Academy Award, based on the fact that only one person has ever been snubbed for the former but gone on to win the latter: Marcia Gay Harden, for Pollock, 12 years ago.
- Several films that were not ready for screenings and/or to be sent out on screeners until very late in the game were, not surprisingly, under-represented or altogether snubbed Wednesday. Sony's Zero Dark Thirty, which has dominated the critics' awards group circuit, was sent out only a few days ago, and because its screeners had to be watermarked to safeguard against the film leaking online prior to its theatrical release -- an extremely expensive process -- it was sent to only a portion of SAG's nominating committee. The film's star Jessica Chastain still managed to score a best actress nomination, but its cast was not acknowledged in the best ensemble category. Even less fortunate were The Weinstein Co.'s Django Unchained and Focus Features' Promised Land, which were completely shut out.
- A number of other presumptive best picture Oscar contenders were completely snubbed Wednesday, which could prove problematic for them down the road, since only a small handful of the 84 best picture Oscar winners have won without also carrying at least one acting Oscar nomination. (The last to do so was Slumdog Millionaire four years ago.) The most prominent films that were not represented in the acting races today: 20th Century Fox's Life of Pi; Focus Features' Anna Karenina and Moonrise Kingdom; Open Road Films' End of Watch; Sony Pictures Classics' Amour; Warner Bros.' Cloud Atlas, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; and The Weinstein Co.'s The Intouchables and Quartet.
- Another film that largely was snubbed is The Weinstein Co.'s The Master, which, at one time not all that long ago, was regarded as a front-runner in this year's awards races and was widely expected to be an across-the-board contender at the SAG Awards. In the end, though, it was left off the lists for best ensemble, best actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and best supporting actress (Amy Adams)' its sole representative among the nominees was Philip Seymour Hoffman for best supporting actor.
- All but three of this year's SAG Award acting nominees were also nominated Wednesday for the Critics' Choice Movie Award: Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) for best actress; Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy) for best supporting actress; and Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) for best supporting actress. Meanwhile, five Critics' Choice Movie Award nominees were not nominated Wednesday for a SAG Award: Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) for best actor, Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) for best actress; Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) for best actress; Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike) for best supporting actor; Judi Dench (Skyfall) for best supporting actress; and Ann Dowd (Compliance) for best supporting actress.