Wednesday, December 09, 2015

7 Random Thoughts on the SAG Nominations

All right, I have been watching the film awards game for about twenty years now, and I don't think I have ever seen a slate quite like what the SAG Awards threw out this morning.  Honestly-I remember City of God getting its random Oscar nominations a few years back and thinking "there will never be anything like this again," but apparently I was dead wrong.  Here are seven random thoughts I had while looking through this morning wackiness.

1. Sarah Silverman-WTF?

Easily the biggest surprise for me was Sarah Silverman for a film that I hadn't even heard of, and certainly had never seen.  The comic actress, best-known for her work on television, randomly gets into Best Actress for I Smile Back over Lily Tomlin, Blythe Danner, Carey Mulligan, Charlotte Rampling, Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith, and Jennifer freaking Lawrence?  How is that even possible?  I genuinely thought they had made a mistake with the slides and Silverman was actually nominated for a TV movie I'd never heard of before.  The fact that she is now a SAG nominee for film acting is one of the weirdest things I've ever seen at one of these announcements.  Does this translate to Oscar?  Who the hell knows, and quite frankly even if it doesn't it's hard to imagine there being a stranger citation this cycle.  And yes, like all of you I'm going to have to find a way to see this now.

2. Helen Mirren is the Queen of Everything

In any other year Dame Helen Mirren's random two nominations for Woman in Gold and Trumbo would be the shocker of the morning, but nothing is going to beat out Silverman's spot.  That being said, this is a trickier proposition for Oscar conversation, as Mirren is actually quite beloved at the Globes (remember, she randomly got cited last year for The Hundred-Foot Journey).  In fact, it's totally within the realm of possibility if Woman in Gold is somehow deemed a comedy that she could be double-nominated by HFPA as well.  This doesn't necessarily mean an Oscar nod (Mirren herself is aware of this-she was nominated for both a few years back for Hitchcock), but no one has ever been doubly-nominated at both awards and not gotten at least one Oscar nomination.  That could well be in supporting (lead seems impossible, even with Harvey behind her), considering...

3. Trumbo is Now a Thing

With three major nominations, including one that looks plausible for Oscar in Bryan Cranston, it's time to start considering whether Trumbo, which was middling at best but has lots of Hollywood hooks in it, may be an Oscar contender.  The film came-and-went without a peep, but perhaps we've been spoiled the past few years with movies like 12 Years a Slave and Birdman winning the top honors-lest we forget it wasn't that long ago that movies like The Cider House Rules were major Oscar players, and that sort of mid-level drama could be attractive to older members of the Academy (whom, I'm guessing, loved this movie).  Plus, Cranston is a hot name that hasn't been invited to the world of movies quite yet and Mirren is always a threat for awards love (apparently).  While I'd like to see a little bit more breath off of this, this might be the film we all underestimated this season.

4. Category Fraud is Only Sort of SAG's Fault

Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara both made the supporting lineup, principally because SAG is required to go with studio designations (this is why people like Jennifer Connelly and Benicio del Toro went lead here in the past while they went on to be supporting at the Oscars-mistakes with where they were submitted).  Since the Globes, if they go for either tomorrow, will not be putting them in supporting (they have already deemed this inappropriate), it makes me wonder what their campaigns will be like.  Mara in particular has gained loads of attention for this being a dual lead with Blanchett-could this be a straw that broke the camel's back situation?  Considering that Larson, Ronan, and Blanchett seem like the only sure things there, she could easily pull a Winslet in The Reader and make it into lead at the last minute.

5. Best Actor is Not Strong This Year, But It Is Varied

With the exception of Cranston, the Best Actor field feels about right, though there's still the likes of Michael B. Jordan, Michael Caine, and Matt Damon to consider against Cranston as it seems unlikely that they all three miss with Oscar.  Still, Leo, Johnny, Fassy, and Eddie all sank a necessary basket this morning, and though The Revenant didn't make Best Cast, against this competition it kind of feels like they're giving it to DiCaprio, right?  Damon and Caine appear like his toughest competition, and they now have big debits against them going into Oscar night.  The fanboys look like they will have their reward...

6. Supporting Actor is Confusing

I still can't get over that Spotlight didn't get what should have been an easy nomination for supporting actor, instead only giving in to Rachel McAdams who now seems like a pretty good bet for the Oscars (though it's worth noting that The Hateful Eight didn't release screeners so Jennifer Jason Leigh could still make it with AMPAS).  With Ruffalo and Keaton out of the way, some other names like Michael Shannon (99 Homes-another film I need to make room for on my viewing docket), Jacob Tremblay (speaking of category fraud), Christian Bale (is he best-in-show in that movie, because if he is I think this could happen?), and Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) all moving into the conversation.  Of these five, unless The Big Short is a late-breaker in the race that I didn't anticipate, I think that Elba is the one we should all start locking into our predictions.  He's a huge star right now, his film is heavy and Netflix is pushing hard, and he's also the best chance this year of a person of color getting nominated for an Oscar.  All that added together sort of makes this a no-brainer.  I wonder, quite frankly, whether it could be Elba v. Mark Rylance for the win.  Also, congrats to Bleecker Street, who produced both Beasts of No Nation and Trumbo-the champagne must be flowing there!

7. SAG Has a Female Problem

This has been noted by everyone on Twitter, but it needs to be repeated-in a year where pretty much everyone agrees the Best Actress field is better than Best Actor, and the female-led films have been the topic of most conversation, SAG chose all films for its top prize where the casts are predominantly male.  In fact, of the 38 actors nominated for Best Cast, only 6 are female-84% of the Best Cast nominees are men.  It's also worth noting that three of those six nominees (Helen Mirren, Elle Fanning, and Diane Lane) come from Trumbo-Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton don't even have female nominations (for the curious, Marisa Tomei and Melissa Leo in The Big Short and Rachel McAdams in Spotlight are the remaining nominations).  Congress has a greater percentage of women than the SAG Awards do, and that's pathetic.

I don't know enough about television to really complain about the nominations there, though I am stunned Oscar Isaac didn't make it for Show Me a Hero (I suspect he does tomorrow at the Globes though) considering his rising star and HBO's guiding hand.  In SAG's defense, I love that this was not what we'll see with the Oscars-that's exciting, and I long for a year where there's chaos around who will win/be nominated, and that we don't have the same four people collecting trophies every weekend.  I just wish that they'd picked better movies to toss into the conversation.  In terms of Oscar, I think that while certain films probably got hurt today (namely Youth, Suffragette, and I'll See You in My Dreams) others like The Martian, Spotlight, and Joy will probably make up for their lack of nods here tomorrow at the Globes.  In the meantime, weigh in on your thoughts about this morning's bizarre SAG nods.

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