The SAG Awards are tomorrow night, streaming for the first time on Netflix. It’s the first major award show, I think, that we’re seeing on the platform, and I’m so curious about how it’s going to play out. 


For those of us who are television broadcast nerds, we’ll be watching to see how this production team, which is not the usual team used by the Oscars and the Grammys, handles this assignment. And what it’ll look like without commercial breaks. Presumably, if there are no commercial breaks, they won’t have to cut off anyone’s speech – but while I know most people think they don’t want the commercials, the fact is that commercials can help pace an award show. Without those breaks that we’ve grown accustomed to, how will the show feel, when it’s non-stop presenting and accepting and applauding? Will we actually prefer it this way? Or will we miss the times when we can get up off the couch to pee or whatever and come back and start another 20 minute block? I’m not saying I prefer one way or another, I honestly don’t know, and that’s why I’m excited to see how it’ll play out. 

I do know, however, that there won’t be, in theory, any constraints with language, so we could see the stars getting more free with their language and some of the sh-t they might say when they’re on stage, so that might already be a benefit.


You know what’s also intriguing? The fact that it’s Netflix airing the SAGs and less than half a year after the strike, and they were one of the major studios that the guild was accusing of undervaluing the work of actors. Like if anyone’s making a joke about the SAGs tomorrow night, how will it look if the joke is targeted at the biggest streamer? 


The other reason the SAGs are important: timing. Oscar voting officially started yesterday and even though it’s been looking like Oppenheimer will come up big, Variety published an Oscar voting status report, with a limited sample, that suggests that certain races are actually tighter than you might think. For example, even though the two presumed frontrunners for Best Actress are Lily Gladstone and Emma Stone, supposedly Sandra Hüller (Anatomy of a Fall) is making a charge. The Best Actor race might also be more wide open than people think – Cillian Murphy is in the lead here but some voters have told Variety that we should not count out Paul Giamatti, Colman Domingo, or Jeffrey Wright. 

As for Oppenheimer overall, the comparison that’s coming up in Variety’s report is CODA, the underdog film that was considered an upset a couple of years ago because it was up against the likes of The Power of the Dog and West Side Story, Belfast, and (ugh) Don’t Look Up. Something something about the general mood out there and that since there’s already so much uncertainty in the world, a film like Oppenheimer, which is bleak and serious, might not be what the voters are feeling if they’re looking for something more uplifting. 


I don’t know if I buy all this, or if it’s an attempt by Variety to generate more suspense on behalf of the Oscars to attract viewers who might be thinking that the Oscar winners are a foregone conclusion this year with the award season domination of Oppenheimer. Which, to go back to the SAGs tomorrow night, we should get a better sense of how things will break when we find out how the actors voted. 

So with that in mind – here are Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, and Cillian Murphy at Jimmy Kimmel Live! yesterday, appearing just as Oscar voters are starting to consider their ballots. 

For all the apprehension that Variety was trying to drum up in their article, they do concede that RDJ seems to have this locked up. He’s been around forever, he’s been campaigning hard, he’s leaning into the narrative that he spent over a decade in a superhero suit and Christopher Nolan talked him into real acting again (I hate it here), so he’s the “it’s his time” contender of the year. 


Even if he wasn’t the frontrunner and probable Best Supporting Actor winner, though, RDJ would probably be the same during this interview as he always is – charming as f-ck, so much charisma, and clearly beloved by his castmates. He’s a supportive co-star but he’s also… Tony Stark Iron Man and I love the part of the interview where they start talking about where the cast and the crew stayed during filming in New Mexico – at a Holiday Inn Express, to get as much money into the film as possible. Christopher Nolan was also at the Holiday Inn Express. But guess who had alternate arrangements? 

It's one of the funniest parts of the segment – when RDJ unapologetically confirms that he arrived on set in a private jet, and stayed in much more luxurious accommodations, on his own dime, mind you. Because he agreed to a low rate to appear in the film… and now look! He’s probably going to get an Oscar out of it! 


Does it hurt him that he wasn’t a “man of the people” and willing to rough it (by movie star standards) at the Holiday Inn Express? Well this is why it’s made clear that he took a pay cut. Because now you can turn that around and say that RDJ lowering his rate for the film made it possible for Nolan to use that money elsewhere. And RDJ, of course, has the charisma and the clout to be able to sell it on a talk show like it’s just a funny anecdote and not also an effective way to appeal to the voters that he’s due for the win. 


We're talking about this on The Squawk! (app link here)