While this year’s Golden Globes nominations provided the unpredictability the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is infamous for, the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, announced Wednesday morning, are a clearer precursor for how the Oscars’ acting categories could stack up. Knowing who the guild—an awards body that focuses entirely on actors, including ensembles, from the best of TV and film—favors is essential context come February. (Since next year’s Emmys will consider TV performances through the end of May 2019, the SAG noms aren’t quite as helpful on the TV side of things, but still informative.) Last year’s SAG winners—Frances McDormand for best actress, Gary Oldman for best actor, Sam Rockwell for best supporting actor, and Allison Janney for best supporting actress—all took home Oscars in their respective categories. Getting the SAG nomination, in other words, is a small but important step in the march toward Oscars glory. These are the winners and losers from Wednesday’s nominations.
Winner: Old White People (Still!)
If the Golden Globes’ television nominations were defined by its predilections for old white dudes—as Chuck Lorre’s The Kominsky Method and its actors Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas took nods away from the likes of Atlanta—then the SAG Awards provided a more diverse playing field by … giving TV nominations to old white women, too. Douglas and Arkin were still recognized in their respective categories, but so were Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin for the Netflix sitcom Grace and Frankie. Evidently, Hollywood’s acting guild is considerably charmed by venerable veteran actors in small-screen roles—which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but those nominations came, once again, at the expense of any Atlanta nominations for individual actors. (The FX series did earn a nod for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, so at least there’s that.)
With respect to The Ringer’s chief Ozark enthusiast Chris Ryan, the Jason Bateman–led series is a woeful imitator of the great white male antihero dramas that defined television’s first golden age. Ozark is literally too dark, and too dull, to warrant praise when there’s so many better dramas—and performances—to recognize. Nevertheless, this year SAG loved Ozark to the tune of four nominations, including Best Ensemble in a Drama Series. I suppose, with The Crown or Stranger Things not eligible this year, Netflix was bound to be recognized in the drama category for something. But did it have to be Ozark?!
Increasingly convinced that “Ozark” is the noise awards voters make when they’re tired of thinking and just need to throw in another nomination— Caroline Darya Framke (@carolineframke) December 12, 2018
Loser: The Good Place
As last week’s Janet-centric episode proved, the performances of its talented ensemble is the glue that holds The Good Place together. Unfortunately, NBC’s otherworldly sitcom garnered zero SAG nominations. It’s hard to make a compelling argument for excluding the work of Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, and D’Arcy Carden—or for the group getting shut out of the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series category. Clearly, the SAG Awards is the Bad Place.
Loser: Regina King
The current GoldDerby odds for the Best Supporting Actress category at the Oscars have Regina King as the favorite for her gripping performance in Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk. She’s certainly been riding the early momentum, winning comparable categories from smaller awards bodies like the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, in addition to landing an Independent Spirit Awards nomination. But King didn’t even get nominated by the SAG, which instead favored Amy Adams (Vice), Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots), Emma Stone (The Favourite), and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite). It’s a shocking exclusion that could shake up the Supporting Actress odds—whether the King snub becomes a larger awards season trend, or a bizarre aberration, remains to be seen.
Winner: The Favourite
Yorgos Lanthimos’s period drama is all about its captivating performances: the tête-à-têtes between Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz are The Favourite’s melodramatic backbone. So it comes as no surprise that all three actresses earned SAG nominations—though it’s a shame that Nicholas Hoult and his wig have repeatedly been excluded from the awards season party; he’s also terrific in the film as a scheming member of Parliament.
Loser: The Favourite?
Despite the performances of its female trio earning individual nominations, The Favourite was surprisingly excluded from the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. (The category featured the ensembles for A Star Is Born, Black Panther, BlackKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Crazy Rich Asians.) One would assume The Favourite was more deserving than Bohemian Rhapsody—a great individual Rami Malek performance shouldn’t equate to love for the rest of the cast, which hasn’t been getting nominations elsewhere. Thankfully, this shouldn’t have any bearing on Colman, Weitz, and Stone’s chances of getting Oscar nominations. This was probably just some SAG weirdness.
Winner: Rami Malek
Apparently, Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury was so spellbinding to SAG that the entire cast was worth nominating as an ensemble. I haven’t seen someone carry an entire team like this since, well, LeBron James took the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals last summer.
A week after being completely shut out by the Golden Globes, the A-list talent from Steve McQueen’s Widows was also not recognized by the SAG Awards. This could be the nail in the coffin for the slim Oscar hopes for Viola Davis or anyone else from the film for their performances—provided the Oscars don’t suddenly install a Best Dog category, which Olivia the West Highland white terrier would totally win over A Star Is Born’s Charlie Cooper.
Winner: Emily Blunt
Blunt was recognized for not one, but two of her silver-screen performances this year: A Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns. The only questionable thing about this accomplishment is that her work in A Quiet Place was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category. I’d argue it’s a co-lead role with John Krasinski, and there are big portions of the film where she’s shouldering the load. Nevertheless, the nominations are warranted and demonstrate how versatile the actress is. A Quiet Place—a horror movie that half the time plays like a silent film, and in which Blunt’s best moment comes from quietly giving birth in a bathtub while a monster is right outside the door—couldn’t be further away from the vibrant, kid-friendly aura she exudes as magical nanny Mary Poppins.
Loser: Oscar Acting Hopefuls on the Margins
There are two actors on the precipice of Oscar consideration who could’ve used a SAG boost: Ethan Hawke for First Reformed and Yalitza Aparicio for Roma. Ahead of the SAG nominations, GoldDerby gave the actors the fifth-best odds in their respective categories, but having missed out on a SAG nomination—in addition to being left behind by the Golden Globes—their prospects are slightly slimmer. Hawke’s terrific work in Paul Schrader’s introspective Priest Gets Woke on Climate Change drama still has the support of smaller awards bodies, but it could be difficult for Aparicio to be recognized in a Best Actress race led by powerhouses like Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), and Glenn Close ([Borat voice] The Wife). Considering how much of Alfonso Cuarón’s deeply personal film relies on Aparicio, in her first acting role (!), conveying a plethora of emotions with nonverbal cues and captivating expressions, it’d be a shame if she missed out on the Oscars.