How Do the Screen Actors Guild Nominations Impact the Oscar Race?
by Joey Magidson
December 12, 2013
The first of the all important guilds have now chimed in on the precursor season, and boy did they have their own agenda. The Screen Actors Guild released their nominations, which have a lot more bearing on the Oscar race than any critics group. Still, as I cautioned in my precursor piece here, any one announcement can only mean so much. That being said, this was our first big one, and SAG usually doesn't completely match up with the Oscar nominees, but they do have a member overlap, so it's a place to start when looking at who's gotten a boost or who's stepped back. From my view, no one had their nomination guaranteed (though one is closer than ever) but no one had their chances canceled, so the race is still evolving. Read on!
Historically, SAG has a track record of nominating a good portion of the eventual Oscar nominees, but they don't completely predict them either. Last year, they went 14 for 20, missing eventual winner Christoph Waltz along with Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Jackie Weaver. In turn, they nominated a half dozen actors/actresses that wound up missing the cut in the end, namely Javier Bardem, Marion Cottilard, John Hawkes, Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren, and Maggie Smith. That's what went down in 2012 though, we're on to 2013 now!
This year, Best Actor saw Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, and Forest Whitaker nominated by their peers. Dern managed to get the veteran vote ahead of one time frontrunner Robert Redford, while the likes of Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Oscar Isaac, and Phoenix were beaten out by Whitaker for what seems to have been the final spot. We were wondering if someone would miss, particularly one of the vets, and we got our answer...Redford was the one left on the outside looking in. Now we just have to wonder if Oscar will do the same.
Best Actress features five previous Oscar winners in Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, and Emma Thompson. This lineup felt pretty obvious, but even so, ladies like Adams, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Kate Winslet were hoping to sneak in, not to mention long shots like Brie Larson and Shailene Woodley. In the end though, the safe bets all won out. The Academy could easily do the same, though Adams certainly has a chance to unseat Streep.
In Best Supporting Actor, things were a bit different than some expected. The nominees here were Barkhad Abdi, Daniel Bruhl, Michael Fassbender, James Gandolfini, and Jared Leto. Abdi was a bit of a surprise and Bruhl could have gone either way, but anyone who actually thought that Gandolfini's still grieving colleagues would pass up this chance was kidding themselves. Fassbender and Leto are all but locked and loaded for Oscar nominations, while those other three could definitely all miss, especially if Hanks winds up double nominated. Among the gentlemen left on the outside looking in for now, we have Bradley Cooper, John Goodman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Jonah Hill. They'll continue to seek favor.
Finally, Best Supporting Actress consisted of the widely expected five of Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o, Julia Roberts, June Squibb, and Oprah Winfrey. Roberts was the most vulnerable to missing here, but she beat out other supporting ladies like Jennifer Garner, Scarlett Johansson, and Lea Seydoux. Conservative estimates would put this category up as the most likely to be a straight match with Oscar, though time will tell there.
Their version of Best Picture is Best Cast Ensemble and that one saw a small surprise. Among the more expected citations for large cast films 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, August: Osage County, and Lee Daniels' The Butler, a small one got in with Dallas Buyers Club. This meant that Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, and The Wolf of Wall Street were snubbed, but I can't say that surprised me too much overall. Dallas Buyers Club getting in was a bit surprising though, I will say that.
So what do we make of all this? Well, the bullet points are that Abdi, Bruhl, Dern, Gandolfini, Roberts, Squibb, Streep, and Whitaker got slight bumps upwards while Adams, Cooper, DiCaprio, Hill, and Redford were among those knocked back a little bit. The one who suffered the most was Johansson, who could have legitimized her candidacy in a big way with a surprise nod here. That nom didn't happen, but that's not exactly a shock.
Keep in mind, SAG has certain tastes. Like I said above, I can't say it shocked me to my core that Her or The Wolf of Wall Street didn't dazzle SAG members, while the star studded August: Osage County and Lee Daniels' The Butler did. They like seeing their friends on the screen and then honoring them like this. That's just their style. They make room for smaller things like Dallas Buyers Club from time to time, doing so this year obviously, but they do generally like to go big in Ensemble.
Overall, this is just some more handy dandy information to arm yourself as the season progresses towards its middle-to-late stages. When the Guilds have all had their say, that will clear things up. But not even the Golden Globe awards will change the race much. SAG is the first one that matters, but it's not the last.