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Another day, another provocative nominations announcement.
SAG-AFTRA’s film nominating committee weighed in on Thursday morning with its finalists for the 27th SAG Awards, which will take place on April 4. And while the picks of the nom-com — which is comprised of about 2,500 people chosen at random from the guild’s overall membership — were certainly less baffling than those offered Wednesday by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, they were still all over the map.
As expected, Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, with its large and talented cast of men of varying ages and races portraying real people, landed a best ensemble nom, making it the only film to score mentions in the top categories on both Wednesday and Thursday. Beyond that, its showing was mixed. In one sense it overperformed: a stunt ensemble nom over Tenet?! In another, it arguably underperformed: its only individual acting nom was for Sacha Baron Cohen in the supporting actor category, even though the SAG Awards’ nomination voting system — un-weighted and non-preferential, unlike the film Academy’s, BAFTA’s or the Critics Choice’s — would seem to advantage a movie that was widely seen and has its entire cast competing in the same category.
Meanwhile, another Netflix film, one that many had written off for dead, roared back to life: the critically maligned Hillbilly Elegy, which is currently clocking in at 26 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but landed two individual noms (a high-mark matched by The Father, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Minari). Glenn Close got a supporting nom for the second day in a row, and on Thursday Amy Adams was recognized in the lead category. The duo did campaign with SAG-AFTRA, but no more so than anyone else — sending screeners, doing Q&As, etc. — so this seems to be the result of genuine affection for the actors and performances, as well as perhaps a reflection of the fact that many of their competitors hail from movies that dropped only recently and may not have had as much time to build momentum, like The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Andra Day) and Malcolm & Marie (Zendaya).
Judas and the Black Messiah also had a late unveiling, but was clearly widely enough seen to land a supporting actor nom for Daniel Kaluuya. (The fact that it registered there, but not in the ensemble category, is something to mull over.) He is one of eight nominees who are the sole reps of their films, the others being lead actor Gary Oldman (Mank); lead actresses Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman); supporting actor Jared Leto (The Little Things); and supporting actresses Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) and Helena Zengel (News of the World). The noms for Leto and Zengel — on both days — were far from assured, and suggest their future prospects for these performances are stronger than previously thought.
The Globes noms completely snubbed Spike Lee‘s Da 5 Bloods, but the SAG nom-com recognized it with noms for best ensemble (four of the category’s five slots went to films about the Black experience), best stunt ensemble and best supporting actor for the late Chadwick Boseman, who is the only double-nominee on the film side, also recognized with a lead actor nom for Ma Rainey. However, its leading man, Delroy Lindo, was left out for the second day in a row, which is hard to understand.
A concern at the Oscars is that acting branch members might be divided about whether to back Lindo’s performance in the leading category, as the studio would prefer, or in the supporting category. But that was not the cause of his miss with the SAG nom-com, which notes the studio’s preference when voting. In the end, he was simply beaten out by Boseman, Oldman, Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal (which I had expected to do better than just one nom), Anthony Hopkins for The Father and Steven Yeun for Minari.
Speaking of Minari, the Korean-language film had received only one Globe nom, for best foreign-language film, but it rebounded with SAG Award noms in three of the five categories — lead actor for Yeun, supporting actress for Youn Yuh-jung and, most notably, best ensemble — placing it in a tie with Ma Rainey for most overall noms. Its SAG nom-com Q&As were giant hits thanks to a moving film, Yeun’s star-power and eloquence, and the humor of the film’s odd couple, 73-year-old Youn (the Meryl Streep of South Korea) and 8-year-old character Alan Kim (who plays her mischievous grandson in the film).
SAG-AFTRA has a mixed track record when it comes to recognizing films not in the English language. The Korean-language film Parasite, of course, won best ensemble last year, the first real harbinger of its best picture Oscar prospects, but none of its individual cast members were nominated. That makes Minari‘s individual noms all the more notable — and the exclusion of The Life Ahead‘s beloved lead actress Sophia Loren a bit disconcerting.
A lot of talent and distributors will be reassessing their prospects in the wake of this week’s announcements. Does Boseman stand a better shot at winning in the competitive lead actor category for Ma Rainey or the thinner supporting actor category for Da 5 Bloods? Both are Netflix films, and the streamer has thus far indicated an understandable preference for the former, but I could see voters moving in the other direction. Will the Hillbilly actresses, Leto and Zengel regard their unexpected noms as a bellwether or a mirage?
And, for performers overlooked by both groups — folks like Loren, Zendaya, The Way Back‘s Ben Affleck, News of the World‘s Tom Hanks, Malcolm & Marie‘s John David Washington, Ammonite‘s Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always‘ Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder, Sound of Metal‘s Paul Raci and Olivia Cooke, Nomadland‘s David Strathairn and Meryl Streep of both Let Them All Talk and The Prom — is it time to pack it in, or to double-down?
The awards season unlike any other is finally heating up. Stay tuned!
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