Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Screen Actors Guild Nominations

Here's the thing. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is 90,000+ members strong, but only around 2100 randomly selected actors actually get together and pick out the nominees. The keyword there is "actors" which means unlike critics they don't have the obligation to see everything which puts riskier projects and relatively unknown actors at a distinct advantage. I'm writing all of this less to inform and more to make myself understand where the hell most of these nominations came from. The film nominations aren't that bad actually, especially compared to the truly perplexing TV ones.

Best Ensemble
  • The Artist
  • Bridesmaids
  • The Descendants
  • The Help
  • Midnight in Paris
It's a fairly predictable list, but it's not a bad one. The Artist, The Descendants, and The Help are all looking good for Oscar Best Picture nominations with Midnight in Paris probably just on the edge (and would be more of a sure thing if the Academy had kept their 10 nominations). Bridesmaids is the one film here which has been receiving critic awards for these, but it's less likely it'll translate into anything other than boosting Melissa McCarthy's chances.

Best 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
No newcomers here as all the ladies here have already been nominated for or won an Oscar. The trio of Streep, Davis, and Williams are looking strong with Close getting the miracle she needed to stay in the picture. It's also great news for Swinton who also has had strong support from critics to get nominated for a tough film. Theron was probably the biggest loser here along with Olsen and Jones.

Best Actor
  • Demián Bichir, A Better Life
  • George Clooney, The Descendants
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
  • Jean Dujardin, The Artist
  • Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Biggest surprise nomination of the day has to go to Demián Bichir. Haven't seen his film, but at least it's an idiosyncratic choice I can understand. The other nominees are less surprising with Clooney, DiCaprio, and Pitt all household names and Dujardin starring in the presumed Oscar front-runner. Unfortunately the edgier films of Fassbender, Gosling, Shannon, and Harrelson put those actors literally on the edge. Big lost for Oldman as well who's still looking for his first Oscar nomination.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
  • Jessica Chastain, The Help
  • Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
  • Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
  • Octavia Spencer, The Help
The biggest snubs here are Redgrave and Woodley, but I'm thinking the Golden Globes (and the BAFTA in Redgrave's case) will give them a boost. If McCarthy wasn't in a film like Bridesmaid, she'd be the frontrunner for an Oscar win, but at least a nomination now seems more plausible. Her biggest obstacle seems to be Chastain whose biggest obstacles are vote splitting with her The Help co-stars and with herself in all the other films she starred in this year.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
  • Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
  • Jonah Hill, Moneyball
  • Nick Nolte, Warrior
  • Christopher Plummer, Beginners
I read someone online saying this category was "unformed" and that's the perfect word to describe it. Critics favorite Albert Brooks was shut out while his biggest competition for Oscars, Christopher Plummer, makes it in. Both veteran actors along with Branagh look good for Oscar nominations with the other two spots up for grab. It was always going to be a long-shot, but Andy Serkis getting honored here would've really been something.

The more I reflect on the film nominations above, I realize that while yes, they are boring, they aren't heinous. On the other hand, we get to these mind-boggling TV nominations...

Best Ensemble, Drama
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Breaking Bad
  • Dexter
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
Of course, we start out with a category that I'm actually okay with. I don't watch Boardwalk Empire, but I only hear good things about it and its cast from people. I highly enjoy the other four shows and wholeheartedly agree on the ensemble nomination for three of them. Dexter isn't really an ensemble show for me. Would it have killed them to nominate something like Fringe, Revenge, Justified, or Homeland (the latter two I haven't seen)?

Best Actress, Drama
  • Kathy Bates, Harry's Law
  • Glenn Close, Damages
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
I only regularly watch one performance here (Margulies), so this category is sadly shrugworthy for me. I was hoping for at least Emmy winner Margo Martindale, the underappreciated Anna Gunn, fresh newcomer Emilia Clarke, the fierce Madeleine Stowe, or anyone in The Good Wife to show up here. Great showing for Glenn Close who is double nominated.

Best Actor, Drama
  • Patrick J. Adams, Suits
  • Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
  • Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Wait, what? I guess this is what happens for Jon Hamm is ineligible. Adams is cute and probably great in his show, but seriously? Are they serious right now? I could name about a dozen or so actors that should take his place, but I'll only mention three: Aaron Paul, Peter Dinklage, and John Noble. A "best actor" list for 2011 that doesn't include at least one of those names is an invalid and worthless list. So say we all.

Best Ensemble, Comedy
  • 30 Rock
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Glee
  • Modern Family
  • The Office
I'm less pissed at what they nominated and more pissed at what they did not. The most egregious snub is the best sitcom (or even best show) out right now and that is Parks & Recreation. Its omission here alone makes this list laughable, but they also saw it fit to still honor Glee? We were all tricked the first time, but come on now. For my money, Community, Happy Endings, How I Met Your Mother, and Cougar Town have better ensemble performances this past year than many of the ones that were nominated.

Best Actress, Comedy
  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Tina Fey, 30 Rock
  • Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
  • Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
They love their Betty White, but how does this list exist without Amy Poehler or even Laura Linney? And while I didn't want her to be nominated, a bit weird also for current It Girl and recent Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy to miss this shortlist. I was also half-expecting Kristen Wiig to show up here especially with the love they showed Bridesmaid in the film section. Oh well.

Best Actor, Comedy
  • Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Steve Carell, The Office
  • Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
  • Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
So we're still nominating people from Two and a Half Men? No Jim Parsons? No Neil Patrick Harris? Nothing from cable? I don't have any more words to be honest.

Best Actress, Miniseries
  • Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
  • Betty White, The Lost Valentine
  • Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
There goes their Betty White obsession. But I'm so, so happy that Winslet will be walking the red carpet this awards season. And she should also walk away with this award. If anything, the old broad she needs to watch out for is Smith, not White.

Best Actor, Miniseries
  • Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
  • Paul Giamatti, Too Big To Fail
  • Greg Kinnear, The Kennedys
  • Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
  • James Woods, Too Big to Fail
I've ran out of things to say. Whatever.

Though, if you do want to read more of my thoughts and reactions to these nominations, head on over to Encore Entertainment to see my conversation with Andrew.

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