Friday, February 3, 2023

Surprises, Misses & Impact Of The SAG Award Nominations

We are officially in the heart of the awards season as the 80th annual Golden Globes awards ceremony concluded last night. Now, the 29th annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award nominations were announced earlier today! With these nominations and other precursors, we are just one step closer to having a good idea of who will be the lucky ones to get that glorious Oscar nomination on January 24th. But for now, let’s look at today’s SAG nominations and what they could mean for this year’s Oscar race…

CAST ENSEMBLE: SAVED BY THE BELL

As we’ve seen in previous precursors, “The Banshees Of Inisherin” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once” continued to dominate this awards season as they lead with five SAG nominations each, tying the all-time record for most film nominations. We also saw Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” appear with a nomination for Best Ensemble following its Golden Globes victory the night before. While the film continues to show up at all the precursors, its presence hasn’t been as strong compared to “The Banshees Of Inisherin” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” But the true headline yesterday morning was “Babylon” and “Women Talking” receiving Best Ensemble nominations. Now it’s no secret that these films have had bumps in the road as “Babylon” continues to receive divisive reactions, disappoint at the box office, and underwhelm with its showing on the BAFTA longlist and “Women Talking” missed key nominations at the Golden Globes and also underperformed with BAFTA missing Best Film and acting mentions for its female performers. Despite this being the two film’s only nominations at SAG, it represents a tiny spark of hope for both films as they may not be guaranteed a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars like “The Fabelmans,” “The Banshees Of Inisherin,” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” With Oscar voting officially starting today, this was the momentum these two specific films desperately needed as they showed up at the expense of other Best Picture contenders like “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Elvis” and “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS CONTINUES TO EXCITE

Best Supporting Actress continues to be an unpredictable race. Angela Bassett showed up again with her performance in the MCU’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” making her one of only three Best Supporting Actress contenders to receive nominations at Critics Choice, Golden Globes, SAG, and a mention on the BAFTA longlist. But unlike her fellow nominees, Bassett is the first actress in this category to set the tone as she won the first televised event precursor at the Golden Globes last night, making her a likely winner in this category for the whole season. Kerry Condon and Jamie Lee Curtis are right up there with Bassett, and with the heavy support of their films elsewhere throughout the season, the chances of either of them missing an Oscar nomination are nearly slim to none. This category also was the saving grace for Stephanie Hsu and Hong Chau as they showed up, the “Women Talking” ladies of Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley on the sidelines once again despite a well-deserved Best Ensemble nomination for Sarah Polley’s criminally underrated film. Janelle Monae from “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” was nowhere to be seen despite Netflix’s heavy campaigning strategy, leaving the film wholly shut out of the SAG awards after it also failed to receive a Best Ensemble nomination (just like the first film missed). The same can also be said for Golden Globe nominee Carey Mulligan as she failed to show up along with the cast for her film “She Said.” With competition from the veteran co-star Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu really needed this nomination to help propel her into the Best Supporting Actress Oscar conversation. With this, a Critics Choice nomination, and the overall love for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” it’s enough to keep her in mind when making those final predictions as a potential nominee now. As for Hong Chau, who is having the best year of her career with other terrific supporting roles in “The Menu” and “Showing Up,” this was a sign of good support for Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” as it shows Best Actor contender Brendan Fraser and the film overall may have more support from the actor’s branch of the Academy than we initially expected. 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: THE USUAL SUSPECTS

There were not many surprises in Best Supporting Actor as we continued to see the usual suspects here, with current frontrunner and recent Golden Globe winner Ke Huy Quan leading the way for his performance in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” “The Banshees Of Inisherin” boys (Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan) popped up again, as did Eddie Redmayne, who repeated his Golden Globe nomination as well for his chilling performance in “The Good Nurse.” His mention here and at the Golden Globes is giving off déjà vu vibes from past similar scenarios like Ben Affleck getting in for “The Tender Bar” or Jared Leto in “The Little Things.” Will Eddie Redmayne overcome these obstacles, or will he fall short, leaving an open door for other contenders who unfortunately missed at SAG, like Brad Pitt in “Babylon,” Judd Hirsh in “The Fabelmans” or even a critics’ favorite like Brian Tyree Henry in “Causeway?”

BEST ACTRESS BECOMING MORE CLEAR OR MURKY?

With each passing precursor, what was once considered to be an easier category to predict has become more complex and tricky. The two frontrunners, Cate Blanchette in “TÁR” and Michelle Yeoh from “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” continues to be the talk of the town after both of their victorious wins at the Golden Globes this past Tuesday. Viola Davis expectedly showed up for her powerful performance in “The Woman King.” The real shocker was Ana De Armas overcoming the controversy of her film “Blonde,” by repeating her Golden Globe nomination with another mention at SAG, showing all of the film’s haters and doubters that she’s still in the race despite what people think of Andrew Domink’s divisive film. While she may not be safe for an Oscar nomination, no matter what anyone thinks of the film, it’s pretty clear with this and other precursor acknowledgments such as the BAFTA longlist; she can be a fellow Best Actress Oscar nominee come January 24th for her portrayal of icon Marylin Monroe. A fantastic nomination for Daniel Deadwyler in “Till” rounded out the lineup leaving out Margot Robbie from “Babylon,” Olvia Coleman from “Empire Of Light,” and the morning’s most surprising omission: Michelle Willaims from “The Fabelmans.” Even with her film doing relatively well with overall nominations, did voters pull votes away by placing her in Supporting, or did they simply not respond to her performance? Considering she missed here, she’s on shakier ground than ever before. Deadwyler’s powerful performance in “Till” continues to speak for itself as a lone nominee in most cases capturing SAG, Critics Choice nominations, and a BAFTA longlist mention, along with being a real-life portrayal of the activist Mamie Till. But with her being the only nominee in a film that has not been seen or widely acknowledged as much as some of her competition, can enough members see not only this performance in time but also have enough passion for voting for it over other nominees despite loving their other films more or will she will be the heartbreaking miss on Oscar nomination morning?

IS ADAM SANDLER THE FIFTH BEST ACTOR NOMINEE?!?! 

Most of the nominees for Best Actor were expected, as many of us here at Next Best Picture correctly predicted Austin Butler, Colin Farrell, Brendan Fraser, and Bill Nighy would be nominated. But then came the surprise nomination for Adam Sandler in “Hustle,” who made his first big appearance at an awards precursor this season. There are still multiple questions to ask…Is there a true clear-cut frontrunner, even with the first major wins from last night’s Globes Awards? We know the Oscars probably won’t give Best Actor to Bill Nighy for his role in “Living,” mainly because his upcoming nomination feels like the classic “the nomination is the win” as he remains the veteran actor amongst the group who still hasn’t received such a single Oscar nomination. But he’s not the only potential first-time Oscar nominee from this group, as all of these actors would be first-time Oscar nominees if they repeat their SAG nominations at the Oscars. Golden Globe winner Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis definitely makes for a slight edge of love over his competitors for now in this category, given the excellent track record the Oscars have at rewarding real-life portrayals, with Will Smith in “King Richard” being the latest one. But with the overwhelming love for “The Banshees Of Inisherin,” a close eye must be kept for now with the other Golden Globe winner Colin Ferrell, especially if he repeats at Critics Choice or BAFTA with another win. As for Brendan Fraser, it’s simply not over yet! There is still time to make a last-minute surprise win at Critics Choice or SAG to spice up the race as he gives an emotionally charged performance in “The Whale” that not only is doing well at the box office but is beloved by audiences. And with the support of co-star nominee Hong Chau, he can very well find himself back in the frontrunner position. Everyone wants to know who will be the fifth Best Actor nominee at the Oscars. Adam Sandler managed to overcome critical darling Paul Mescal in “Aftersun” and action blockbuster superstar Tom Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick” with this lone nomination for his film. And with Sandler gaining more and more respect as a veteran actor, this could be a makeup nomination as he previously missed an Oscar nomination for his critically praised performance in “Uncut Gems” in 2019. SAG doesn’t typically have a perfect five-for-five correlation with the Oscars. Still, with the last two years consecutively going five-for-five with nominees for SAGs receiving Oscar nominations, that trend could continue with Sandler being the fifth nominee. Or is there someone else on the horizon we’re not thinking of that can shock us all?

MOMENTUM IN BEST STUNT ENSEMBLE

The stunt categories are the black sheep of the SAGs as it’s one of two categories that don’t get the privilege to be presented in the telecast for the award show. There were some glaring misses here from “Everything Everywhere All At Once” being the biggest one, which kept it from being the most nominated film of all time at SAG. It joins a long-running list of movies that showcase incredible stunt work but, for some reason, don’t show up here, such as “Tenet” and “John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum.” Other notable misses include the international breakthrough sensation “RRR,” which could have benefited from an appearance at SAG for its Best Picture chances. Action blockbusters such as “Avatar: The Way Of Water,” “The Woman King” and “Top Gun: Maverick” continued to show up despite not appearing in any of the individual or ensemble acting categories, helping to boost their Best Picture chances. While the previous film won the Best Ensemble prize in 2018, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” had to settle for an individual nomination for Angela Bassett, as mentioned earlier, and a Stunt Ensemble nomination. While it may not be as much of a Best Picture contender as the first film, its mention here only helps Bassett’s chances. Likewise, while missing a nomination for Best Ensemble, the presence of “The Woman King” here still keeps Viola Davis company in the Best Actress category and should not be underestimated as a Best Picture contender.

We still have a road ahead until the Oscar nominations on January 24th, with the BAFTA nominations and other guilds to come. But we now officially have an idea of who to look out for when it comes to the final Oscar nominations. We can’t guarantee anything at this stage still, but if there is one thing guaranteed, there is one word to describe yesterday’s nominations: Revival. Many contenders needed this boost, and they got it, making many of these races more exciting than ever.

What were the biggest surprises for you this morning? Did these nominations confirm any of your predictions for the Oscars? Who do you think will win the Cast Ensemble award? Chime in below in the comments section or over on our Twitter account.

Isaiah Washington
Isaiah Washington
Aspiring Screenwriter & awards season junkie. If you don't hear from me, I'm probably busy watching a film.

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