The Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees, like the Golden Globes (whose nominations will be announced tomorrow) have a big impact on (or at least are an early predictor for) the Oscar nominations. As a TV bellwether, they (like the Globes) are less important or precise. While all the actors who vote for the Emmys are in SAG, not all SAG members are Emmy voters. As a result, the tastes don’t exactly line up, and you have oddities like “Homeland” being complete snubbed by SAG last year and then going on to be the biggest drama winner on Emmy night, or like “Suits” co-star Patrick J. Adams getting an unexpected SAG nomination and then being ignored at Emmy time.
The SAG nominations announced this morning didn’t have anything nearly as strange on the TV side of things. They were predictable almost to a fault with lots of familiar nominees in familiar categories, plus “Homeland” picking up the various nominations it should have gotten last year. In fact, the only new ongoing series to get a nomination was “The Newsroom,” whose star Jeff Daniels will compete against usual suspects Steve Buscemi from “Boardwalk Empire,” Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad” and Jon Hamm from “Mad Men,” plus Damian Lewis from “Homeland.”
As happened with the Emmys, “Downton Abbey” moved from the miniseries categories to the drama ones, with the series competing with “Boardwalk,” “Homeland,” “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” for drama ensemble and Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery competing with Julianna Margulies from “The Good Wife,” Claire Danes from “Homeland” and Jessica Lange from “American Horror Story”(*) for drama actress. As with the Emmys, the commercial broadcast networks couldn’t get much traction, with Margulies the only drama performer from a show on the Big Four to get noticed.
(*) The SAG Awards, unlike the Emmys, treat “American Horror Story” as an ongoing series, despite FX’s attempts to game the Emmy system and get it nominated as a miniseries each year.
While you might hope for more variety among the drama nominations – someone from “Game of Thrones” or “Justified” or “Parenthood” or “Luck” (which every major awards show has tried to ignore the existence of, despite the presence of Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte) – the way that SAG doesn’t have a separate category for supporting performances makes that difficult, and it’s hard to quibble with these specific picks. (I’m not a “Downton” fan, but I recognize why others are.)
The comedy side was a little more questionable and/or complacent.
All the “Modern Family” nominations – for comedy ensemble, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara – were, of course, inevitable. Ditto “The Big Bang Theory” being recognized for its ensemble and “30 Rock” for its ensemble, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. These are big hits and/or award perennials with lots of talented actors. And I’m happy to see the under-the-radar excellence of “Nurse Jackie” season 4 get recognized with an ensemble nomination on top of Edie Falco’s usual nod. But “Glee” seems to be there only because it always is (and because it won in its first year), and same for “The Office” (even if this current season has been much better). For “Parks and Recreation” to not be nominated for its ensemble – even if Amy Poehler got her first SAG nomination – is ridiculous. And it’s also somewhat surprising that SAG didn’t nominate either Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep” or Lena Dunham for “Girls” after both were Emmy-nominated (and Louis-Dreyfus won) earlier this year. (The mix of lead and supporting performances hurt them, as they were likely knocked out by Vergara and Betty White.)
It’s hard to get worked up over any of these choices, though. It’s a predictable batch of nominees in an awards show where the TV categories are an afterthought at best.
What does everybody else think? Are you particularly excited or upset by any inclusion or omission?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org