By necessity, lots of the politicking has been virtual, but that hasn't put a damper on the campaigning for SAG-AFTRA's awards — announcements from the nominating committees take place Feb. 4 — as thespians honor their own.
Sound of Metal
SAG-AFTRA voters are enchanted by this tale of a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing — and entranced with its stars, not just Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke but also Paul Raci, the hearing son of deaf parents, and deaf castmembers like Chelsea Lee and Shaheem Sanchez, who have done Q&As.
Promising Young Woman
Virtual attendance has been heavy for this film's Q&As, where star Carey Mulligan and writer-director Emerald Fennell (who moonlights as The Crown's Camilla Parker Bowles) were joined by a rotation of its diverse supporting players — Alison Brie, Laverne Cox and Molly Shannon all have made appearances.
Few films have had SAG-AFTRA nom-com members cheering more than this Korean-language American production, and its Q&As were hits not just because of star Steven Yeun but also its sardonic 73-year-old vet Yuh-jung Youn (the film's grandma) and precocious 8-year-old scene-stealer Alan Kim.
Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman)
The #MeToo news involving co-star Shia LaBeouf might deter some from watching a film that's already a tough sell, but those who do watch rave about the actress' turn as a woman whose at-home birth goes wrong. And her well-regarded co-star Ellen Burstyn has joined her for Q&As.
Anthony Hopkins (The Father)
He's garnered acclaim for his performance as a man facing dementia, a part for which Frank Langella won a Tony. But he has been missing from the campaign trail, as he was last season when he was up for The Two Popes, for which he earned an Oscar nom but not a SAG nom.
Ben Affleck (The Way Back)
The Boston native has found his way back from a few years of professional duds and personal turmoil with an acclaimed turn as an alcoholic basketball coach. If that wasn't enough to interest the nom-com, then a Q&A moderated by Matt Damon probably was.
Apple TV+'s first real across-the-board contender is anchored by performances by Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple (all could get individual noms), plus a diverse host of supporting players. Q&As have been moderated by fans Patton Oswalt and Yvette Nicole Brown.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
This HBO stalwart has received SAG noms for ensemble and lead comedy actor (for the hilarious Larry David) three times in the past. But its most recent season was almost over by the time the pandemic struck and now feels to many like old news, and it faces a larger-than-ever number of worthy competitors.
It's hard to imagine a show with a larger, more genuine ensemble than this one had in its fourth season, the last with this particular crop of actors. Most of the group also were part of season three, for which the Netflix show received two of SAG's five drama actress slots and won drama ensemble.
Hugh Grant (The Undoing)
The former rom-com charmer has reinvented himself as an onscreen scoundrel, winning SAG noms for 2017's Florence Foster Jenkins and 2019's A Very English Scandal, and his role opposite Nicole Kidman as a murder suspect in this HBO show is his juiciest yet.
Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere)
Though this Hulu show finished its rollout back in April, its producer-stars — both SAG-AFTRA darlings — are keeping it in the conversation, even enlisting a little help from friends like Natalie Portman, who moderated a Q&A.
Paul Mescal, Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People)
The breakouts of Hulu's tearjerker have sustained interest in it with SAG Q&As — including an unusual one Dec. 21 when all 12 episodes were streamed with chats in between, including one moderated by Schitt's Creek's Dan Levy.
This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.