As Sarah covered yesterday, the Screen Actors Guild announced their nominations yesterday and one of the biggest shocks was that Kristen Stewart was NOT nominated for Best Actress. It’s considered the most major snub of the field – Kristen’s performance as Princess Diana is widely acclaimed, and I’m telling you, every Oscar expert out there thought she and Nicole Kidman were the locks, especially since Kristen was out here campaigning, at least early on. In the late fall she started backing off just a little, telling Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast that “I don’t give a sh-t” about Oscar buzz. She did add that the “Oscars are such a funny thing. There are so many incredible movies and performances that barely get seen. It definitely says something about where we're at as a cumulative presence — what we’re looking at, what we care about. I really appreciate that something that I was involved in has ignited such a large conversation. We don't make movies to not connect with each other." Still, you can imagine the quote that made headlines.
Kristen was also featured in The New Yorker in November and when asked about being an Oscar contender, this was her response:
“I’ve never been in the running, if you want to put it like that,” Stewart [said]. For each golden statuette, there is a get-to-know-you campaign that, at times, has all the glamour of a race for state senate. “I do not want to seem like an ass, but it’s so embarrassing and so tiring,” she said. “It is highly political. You have to go talk to people. You feel like you’re a diplomat.”
I’m not saying that all the members of the SAG nomination committees listen to every Variety podcast and read The New Yorker, but industry people are the ones who pay attention to industry news. And if there was any hesitation about Kristen, those quotes may not have helped – especially when you layer them on top of what her reputation may have been for the wider SAG membership body.
When I wrote about Kristen’s Oscar chances late last year, I noted that she’d be well-received among actors, who are the largest voting body in the Academy, because she’s worked with so many of them, and so many veterans, from Julianne Moore to Sean Penn to Jodie Foster and so many more – and I stand by that. But the Screen Actors Guild just snubbed her. So how does that track?
The actors who are part of the Academy by and large are the best actors. The three I just named in connection to Kristen are all Oscar winners. The Screen Actors Guild has over 10,000 members and, you can imagine, not all of them are Oscar winners or even nominees. Most of them, in fact, are actors who are auditioning for their next jobs, waiting and hoping for the opportunities that Kristen has had. It may be that they’re still writing her off at the girl from Twilight. It may be that they still think of her as a truculent movie star. But obviously her campaign did not resonate with them as much as the others – most of whom are even more established than Kristen: Olivia Colman, Jennifer Hudson, Nicole Kidman (all Oscar winners), and Jessica Chastain, multiple Oscar nominee. And then there’s Lady Gaga, who’s been telling everyone how traumatic it was for her to play Patrizia Reggiani, and that artistic suffering has just earned her another SAG nomination. And that definitely lines up. The SAGs have generally favoured sentiment and melodrama – actors love BIG ACTING. Kristen Stewart’s performances have often been restrained and contained.
There’s no question that Kristen being left off the SAG ballot hurts her Oscar chances. But how much? Again, the actors who vote on Oscars are a much smaller pool than the SAGs and like I said, many of them know Kristen personally. But it’ll be interesting to see whether or not she gets nominated for a BAFTA, as British voters also have a huge influence on Oscar. (Example: Sir Anthony Hopkins’ win last year over the late Chadwick Boseman.) If BAFTA breaks for Kristen, she’ll definitely be in play for an Oscar. But will BAFTA want to recognise an actor for playing Princess Diana? That’s the dilemma. Prince William is the head of BAFTA. And it’s not like Spencer was flattering to his family. This wouldn’t have mattered as much if the SAGs had come through for Kristen, but now it’s much more of a factor if she’s going to stay in the race as a legitimate contender.
Sometimes a snub can help an contender. One of the best examples of this is Ben Affleck and Argo. He was denied a Best Oscar nomination for the film, everybody felt bad for him, and he ended up with a Best Picture Oscar trophy. I’m not sure it’ll work the same way for Kristen, but on the same day that she was snubbed by SAG, she stepped out a few hours later in LA for a screening of Spencer and a Q&A with director Pablo Larraín, after first having dinner with some friends, including Ashley Benson. It may not necessarily help her chances that she’s getting right back out there, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.