As is now an almost annual tradition, the Golden Globe nominations yesterday outraged pretty much everyone. Today, on the film side, at least, the SAG Awards offer an improvement over the Globes. The nominees were just announced and though there is still some nuttiness, I do not want to throw my computer into the sea after reading the SAG nominees. This is also a MUCH better bellwether for the Oscars, as a lot of SAG members also vote in the Academy. This is good news for films like Minari, Da 5 Bloods, and One Night Miami, which did not do well in the Globes nominations, but all of which scored multiple nominations from SAG.
The biggest inclusion of the SAG Awards is that they nominated multiple Black ensemble films, something the Globes completely failed to do. Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and One Night in Miami all scored Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture nominations. Chadwick Boseman was posthumously nominated—it physically pains me to write that—for both Leading Actor, in Ma Rainey, and Supporting Actor, for Da 5 Bloods. This is likely a preview of what’s to come with the Oscars, where he has good odds at two more nominations. Leslie Odom, Jr. was nominated for Supporting Actor for One Night in Miami, a film which could easily fill that category with all four principal actors, though that is unlikely. At this point, Odom has emerged as the best bet for an acting nomination for Miami. And Steven Yeun is a Leading Actor nominee for Minari, which is GREAT to see. There needs to be more Minari love in general.
On the ladies’ side, Minari also banked a nomination for Youn Yuh-jung. I hate to break Lainey’s heart, but while I think she’s a solid bet for an Oscar nomination, I don’t think she’s the favorite to win that at the Oscars. I don’t think there is a clear favorite in that category yet, but it will almost certainly be an actress already very familiar to the Academy, like Olivia Colman (The Father) or Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman). If a less familiar name does take it, it will probably be Maria Bakalova, an overnight sensation thanks to Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. One thing to keep in mind about awards season this year, people are struggling with the online screeners (just like everyone else in the industry). Without in-person screening events, it’s all down to screeners, and the Academy set up a special streaming platform for its members that is, apparently, buggy as hell and hard to use. This year, the Oscars will be all about existing name recognition, because a LOT of people are just going to vote who they know, not necessarily what they’ve seen. That happens every year, but it’s going to be a major factor this year, based on all the complaints I’ve heard about the Academy screening platform.
This is the logical explanation for acting nominations for Glenn Close and Amy Adams for Hillbilly Elegy, a terrible movie and a couple of embarrassing performances, but Close and Adams are very well-known and respected. You actually have to see that movie to understand how bad they are in it. Ditto for Jared Leto getting ANOTHER nomination for The Little Things, a not-great movie and his is the worst performance in it. Have they actually SEEN these movies?! There’s a real chance the answer is “no” and enough people are voting on name recognition alone to make these nominations happen. (This could also be why Leslie Odom, Jr. is getting all the attention for One Night in Miami, not that he isn’t good, he is, but he’s also the most recognizable name in that cast.) Name recognition is going to be everything this year, but I swear to the gods old and new if that means Jared Leto gets another Oscar nomination…
Hillbilly Elegy and Jared Leto aside, the SAG Awards are a solid crop of nominees. I am very encouraged by the ensemble nominations for Ma Rainey, Da 5 Bloods, One Night in Miami, and Minari. These are some of the best films last year, each deserving of the attention, and hopefully this will translate to Oscar momentum. Nomadland is an expected exclusion at the SAGs, as it doesn’t really have an “ensemble” cast, but Frances McDormand picked up a Leading Actress nomination, which is lining her up to become the only living three-time Best Actress winner. Again, name recognition is the game, and while I wouldn’t count out Viola Davis, it is sort of feeling like it’s Franny McD’s to lose. Overall, the SAG Awards are MUCH less embarrassing than the Golden Globes, and a better crop of nominees all around.
See the complete list of SAG nominees here.