Oscars 2020: SAG Award Nominations

The SAG nominations were announced today. I always have the same reaction every time it’s SAG nominations day, which is, “Oh man, this is big.” And then the nominations happen and it’s just four categories. And I’m like, “Oh, right, it’s just that.” They mean so much and yet you can go over them in about five minutes (‘How did he do such fantastic stunts with such little feet?‘). I think it’s because PGA and DGA are just one thing. This gives the impression of a full show like the Globes or BFCA (which it is… if you care about TV, which I do not).

Anyway, the acting branch has spoken. They are the majority of Oscar voters and what happens here is usually a major sign for what’s to come at the Oscars. Now, I’ve said for about five years now that SAG has gotten oversaturated with voting members and that a lot of the nominees in recent years have felt more like a popularity contest more than anything else. Which is why you always see certain people and performances always seem to make it on even if logic says they’ll never get nominated for the Oscar. I’ve also noticed a definite trend toward a deliberate desire to vote for non-white performers. Which is admirable. But you also have to realize — you’re still dealing with a base of old, stodgy white people, so what happens at SAG does not necessarily equate to everywhere else. These are the things you need to know if you’re trying to guess this shit as I do each year.

So here’s what SAG has given us for 2020 (my guess is this is the year of inclusion and makeup awards since they have no fucking clue what to do and we don’t have the usual publicity cycle where people (who largely don’t watch anything) are told what to vote for and generally do):

Outstanding Ensemble

Da 5 Bloods

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Minari

One Night in Miami

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Yeah, that about covers how I felt. Three Black films, the Asian film, and the ensemble film. Granted, these are all ‘actor’ heavy films, so I can’t be too upset there. Plus I’m not actually sure what this category is or what it equates to with the Oscars. Some people put stock into this (‘if it’s not nominated here, it doesn’t win Best Picture’), but I say they’re gonna do what they want anyway (I don’t remember Shape of Water or Green Book getting on here and doing just fine). And honestly, doesn’t this just feel like Trial of the Chicago 7 is the one that’s gonna come out of here in the best shape at the Oscars anyway?

My guess is they end up giving this to Da 5 Bloods or One Night in Miami, but who knows. This really doesn’t mean a whole lot to me and is really just used for justification on the back end to whatever picks you’re gonna make down the road. But if you’re asking me if I’m at all surprised by anything here, I’m gonna say not a chance, because this is how SAG has been voting lately. And until it corresponds to everything at large, I can’t really gleam much from it in terms of what’s gonna happen.

Best Actor

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Gary Oldman, Mank

Steven Yeun, Minari

Same four from yesterday, and Steven Yeun gets on that fifth spot the Globes used on the guy from The Mauritanian. I did say those top four felt like the four most likely to get nominated. And here we are. BAFTA should give us at least three of these five, with Hopkins almost a sure bet as well, being a Brit, and Yeun being 50/50. There isn’t really a whole lot else I can see as contending for a spot. Hanks hasn’t caught on yet, and would need both BAFTA and BFCA support for me to even consider that a possibility, and everyone else is just people I loved, like Hugh Jackman or Mark Rylance (who I imagine is being pushed supporting, if at all, since they seem to be focused on Sacha for that movie). And they seem to not be considering Small Axe for film at all, so I won’t even bring up any of the myriad of those actors who are worth being on here.

Unless another contender emerges from the final two precursors, I think this is your list. And that proposes a really interesting scenario, since it sure seems like Chadwick is gonna emerge the frontrunner from this. I can’t see them rallying around Hopkins for a late second Oscar, especially given that as the film so few people will have seen. I can’t see Yeun getting the support for a win unless people really start to rally around him and the film (and you’ll start to feel that taking shape if and when it does). Oldman just won and feels like the only other real contender here. And Riz — it might just be a ‘welcome to the party’ nomination, even if he is a live contender if things start to shape up the right way.

This might end up being our third posthumous acting win. But again, it’s early. I’m just telling you how I see things shaping out as of right now, which is before anyone’s won anything and with only two of four precursors in.

Best Actress

Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman

Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Of course they nominated Amy Adams. That’s the dichotomy of SAG. They go popular, but they also go by the book. Because a lot of actors don’t watch shit and just look at ‘what are the big movies?’ So they look at Amy Adams, someone they know who’s been nominated a bunch, and see the movie as being a big contender, and they just reflexively put her on the list. How many times are the same big names nominated in the TV categories just because they’re big names?

Previous SAG Best Actress nominees, in case you’ve forgotten:

  • Lupita Nyong’o, Us
  • Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins
  • Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul
  • Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train
  • Helen Mirren, The Woman in Gold
  • Helen Mirren, Hitchcock

Are you noticing a pattern here? It’s people they like. Doesn’t matter what the movie is. So that’s why Amy Adams is on here. Don’t assume she’s gonna get nominated unless BAFTA goes there too. If BFCA goes there, I’d be surprised, but I would then raise her up to a coin flip (even though I still think it’s unlikely they go there and unlikely she actually gets nominated).

Oh, but there are four other nominees.

Viola Davis, Frances and Carey all go two-for-two. That’s almost assured to be part of your list. BAFTA and BFCA should be all over those three. And then Vanessa Kirby is the interesting one. That’s also two for two. But she’s someone I’ll need to see hit the other two before I assume that’s gonna happen (and watch that movie as well, because I still haven’t seen it yet, so I know what I’m dealing with).

This is telling me that 4/5 of the Actress list is coming from here, with the Adams spot the question mark. The Globes had Andra Day on, and I guess there’s technically Michelle Pfeiffer in the comedy category, which… if she didn’t get on here, I’m not giving much of a chance unless BAFTA goes for her in a big way. So that fifth spot is gonna be open. Could that mean Han Ye-ri from Minari (is she not SAG? Is that maybe why she’s not here)? Could that mean someone else. I’m not sure yet.

Curious to see no Kate Winslet here. I wanna see where BAFTA and BFCA go on that one. Also interesting no Elisabeth Moss. Which I’m happy about since I wasn’t in love with either of her performances, but it does make it easier to not have to worry about people going nuts about that possibility. And all the others are just people I loved, like Evan Rachel Wood in Kajillionaire or Julia Garner in The Assistant. Or even Sidney Flanigan in Never Rarely Sometimes Always. Or Jessie Buckley in I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Most of those never felt like real potential contenders, but still. BAFTA and BFCA are gonna tell us a lot about this one (and I suspect that probably means Kate Winslet, but we’ll see).

Oh, and unless the Kirby performance is undeniable, this feels like it could be Carey’s year. Maybe they go Viola, or maybe it’s Frances again so soon, but this is starting to feel like Carey could potentially do it. It’s a tough performance for the voters at large to rally around, but if it starts collecting wins it could happen. Especially if the list looks like this. Though the precursors are gonna tell us a lot about this one. And it’s not even a situation where the first win is the end, like in so many other years. You might need to wait to see three or four before you know (and even then, you might not, if they split).

Best Supporting Actor

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Jared Leto, The Little Things

Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami

Wait, is this the exact Globes list? Oh, no. They didn’t have Chadwick on twice. They had Bill Murray on instead. But, Cohen again almost assures him a nomination, barring some snub of the other two. Odom is two for two, but I need to see how the others treat him before I go there. Leto, I need to see the movie first, but that’s striking me as an odd inclusion. But then again, Oscar loves a good creepy killer role, so I’m inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt for now. Kaluuya — I need to see the movie, but just from the trailers he seems like he’s got the goods. So I’m excited to see how that goes. And Boseman — I need to see the movie again, because it felt like he was barely in that movie and didn’t really have anything worth nominating and that people are just nominating him for the sake of nominating him. But I’ll watch it again and see. Either way, they’re pretty much in agreement with the Globes. So we’ve got two more precursors to tell us if anything’s gonna be different or if this is gonna be the list.

I had a lot of trouble myself in trying to find supporting performances I liked this year. If Rylance counts as supporting, I’d want to see him here, but without precursors, I can’t see it suddenly coming out of nowhere. Paul Raci got an Indie Spirit nom and NBR for Sound of Metal. So he’s in contention for now, until BFCA and BAFTA happen. I’m sad to not see Delroy Lindo here, but I’ll keep him in mind for future precursors to see if he gets on there. Otherwise, there’s not really a whole lot else, so you might also be seeing this as the list for no reason other than them not having someone else to rally around. Note to studio publicity departments: now’s the time to try to build a narrative around your one performance to try to get it on, since the door seems to be open here.

Do they go double Chadwick? I feel like they could. Kaluuya feels like a legit contender. Maybe they can rally around Sacha just as a performer. Hell, maybe it’s Odom. I have no idea here at the moment.

Best Supporting Actress

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

Olivia Colman, The Father

Youn Yuh-Yung, Minari

Helena Zengel, News of the World

Close, Colman, Zengel all got on the Globes. Bakalova was on Globes lead in Comedy.  Youn Yuh-Yung being on here is a surprise, since that means she’s SAG, and that means that Han Ye-ri also could have been nominated and wasn’t. So that tells me something there.

Bakalova really is starting to feel like she’s gonna get nominated. Colman is in her three year window post-win to get nominated again and is also quite good in that movie. Also of note — Anthony Hopkins has been nominated for five Oscars. Four of those times, another person from the film was nominated with him. Silence of the Lambs, there was Jodie Foster (who won, of course). Remains of the Day, Emma Thompson. Nixon, Joan Allen. Two Popes, Jonathan Pryce. The only time he didn’t have someone else nominated was Amistad, and that’s because he wasn’t the lead and was the scene-stealer. Two Popes, he was nominated Supporting, but he was ostensibly a co-lead and they just pushed him there to get both people on. So that tells me Colman is a really strong contender, apart from them liking her and her being great and her probably getting three or four of four precursors. Bakalova I think is a strong contender, but I’ll need to see BAFTA go there (BFCA feels like they probably will, but if they leave her off, that’s telling, especially if BAFTA doesn’t happen) to be sure sure. It was like when BAFTA went Melissa McCarthy that one year. You need to be sure everyone’s down for the comedy nom before you can guess it.

Close is gonna get on out of reflex and because she’s Glenn Close. She can come out unscathed from that movie and even make a compelling case to win this in a year like this. I mean, fuck it. Give Glenn Close her Oscar and have her beat Olivia Colman, who beat her (probably rightfully so, if I’m being honest) in 2018. Youn Yuh-Yung is great and outdoes Glenn Close as the foul-mouthed grandmother, but a win is a tall order. A nomination is already a tall order, so let’s let that happen first and go from there. And Zengel — I’m surprised she got on here. Seeing her get nominated would be really surprising and kind of great. But she won’t contend for a win unless people go all in on it, which I don’t expect to see.

Which tells me — Bakalova or Close, unless someone jumps into the fray. Like Saoirse Ronan, who I’m honestly surprised to not see here. They must really have not liked that movie or someone isn’t promoting it properly, since Saoirse feels like a gimme for the actors at this point. Oh, but they left her off for Little Women last year too. Which… hmm. Saoirse feels like she could sneak in and take this down.

I thought Olivia Cooke would fare better, but maybe people felt like I did — there’s not enough of her in the movie, since the work was good enough to get here, but the movie abandons her for a lot of it. I still think Amanda Seyfried is worth being here, but BAFTA will have to bring her back in the race, because just the Globes and maybe BFCA, while doable, may be too big a hill to climb for someone they might not fully take seriously as an ‘actor’ (the quotes meaning someone who gets nominated for these things. Usually they need that first nomination and perception to change before they’re willing to actually go there on someone).

So that was all just looking ahead to the Oscars (which is really all I ever do with this stuff, since I don’t really care what happens here, I’m always looking to the end goal). In terms of who wins this? I mean, it might actually be Bakalova. I can’t make a compelling argument for anyone other than her or Glenn Close here.

Outstanding Stunt Ensemble

Da 5 Bloods

Mulan

News of the World

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Wonder Woman 1984

Sure? What a weird set of movies. Da 5 Bloods has obvious stunts. Mulan, sure. News of the World, not as much, but western so okay. Chicago 7 has all the riots, which I get. And Wonder Woman. What a weird hodgepodge, and honestly they should make this an Oscar category so we can start respecting stunt people properly. Especially now that they combined the Sound categories into a single one.

– – – – –

Oh, and the TV stuff which I guess we’ll deal with because sure.

Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series

Better Call Saul

Bridgerton

The Crown

Lovercraft Country

Ozark

Oh hey, Bridgerton counts here. So that means the Globes are behind the eight ball and/or super racist and are gonna get on the train a year late. That sounds about right.

I assume The Crown wins, unless it’s because they go all in on the flavor of the moment.

Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series

Dead to Me

The Flight Attendant

The Great

Schitt’s Creek

Ted Lasso

Schitt’s Creek wins this in a walk.

Best Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman, Ozark

Josh O’Conner, The Crown

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Regé-Jean Page, Bridgerton

It always feels like the same people are here. Bateman won two years ago, Brown won three years ago. Odenkirk has never won. O’Connor feels like a tall order, given the level of actor who usually wins this. Maybe they go Bridgerton guy. No fucking clue, and honestly don’t really care.

Best Actress in a Drama Series

Gillian Anderson, The Crown

Olivia Colman, The Crown

Emma Corwin, The Crown

Julia Garner, Ozark

Laura Linney, Ozark

Damn. Five performances, two shows. Good luck. Claire Foy won both times for The Crown. Linney is 0-fer so far. Garner was nominated once here and lost. Corwin and Anderson are new, but I suspect Colman takes center stage there. Thinking they go Linney just to give it to Laura Linney or go Colman because Colman and The Crown.

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

Nicholas Hoult, The Great

Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso

Ramy Youssef, Ramy

Tony Shalhoub won this the previous two years. William H. Macy the two years before that and three of four, with Jeffrey Tambor in the middle. This is a new look for them.

The double Levys might cancel each other out. Ramy won the Globe last year but I don’t know if people even watch that show. I assume Sudeikis would normally be the choice here, unless they’re gonna go all in on Schitt’s Creek, which would be nice. I think we’d all like a Eugene Levy win.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate, Dead to Me

Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me

Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant

Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek

Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek

Cancel the first two out, Cuoco is lucky to be nominated. It’s O’Hara in a walk. And they’ve seen her give other speeches, they know what they’re doing. They want this.

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie

Bill Camp, The Queen’s Gambit

Daveed Diggs, Hamilton

Hugh Grant, The Undoing

Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird

Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True

Bill Camp is in The Queen’s Gambit. Learned that today.

Hamilton is a total copout. Hawke is there because he’s Ethan Hawke, Ruffalo the same, though Ruffalo could reflexively win just because he’s Mark Ruffalo. Grant doesn’t stand much of a chance at the win.

It’s either Diggs or Ruffalo. I assume Diggs, but who the hell knows. Also, both playing dual roles.

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie

Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America

Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You

Nicole Kidman, The Undoing

Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit

Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere

I mean, this is either Anya Taylor-Joy or Michaela Coel who wins this, otherwise this is purely a popularity contest.

Nicole Kidman won for Big Little Lies, and I assume this is just a reflex vote and she stands no chance. Washington doesn’t feel like she’s got the firepower to win, but who knows. And Blanchett is always here and they probaly feel no need to go there.

Queen’s Gambit is the show of the fall and people love I May Destroy You. I can see either winning, but I’ll lean toward Coel, knowing how SAG has voted lately.

Outstanding Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

The Boys

Cobra Kai

Lovecraft Country

The Mandalorian

Westworld

Cool. Hard to go against Westworld here, though I also know very little about The Boys and even less about Lovecraft Country. Honestly, good for them even having the category.

– – – – –

So that’s SAG. Acting categories further taking shape, BFCA is on Monday and then we have a month to just wait it out and speculate (or, if you’re me, do nothing because it’s pointless to speculate without BAFTA).

– – – – – – – – – –

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