The 2015 SAG Awards nominations are in – and looking mostly familiar. With the circuit flooded with nominations and critical shout-outs, the major guilds are ready to take us into the homestretch with their take on the year's best. But, as with every event this season, SAG”s announcement also came with a couple surprises and a few glaring omissions.
Sizing up both the television and film nominees, Dan Fienberg and I walked away from the SAG announcement with these takeaways:
Snub: “Selma” couldn”t rally the voters
After wrapping production over the summer, Ava DuVernay”s Martin Luther King Jr. biopic raced towards its late December qualifying run, making a surprise premiere at AFI Fest and declaring itself an awards contender. Since the debut, the “Selma” screening machine has worked tirelessly to push it into the conversation (which, thanks to the country”s current state, it didn”t need too much help with). But routine applause and high praise weren”t enough to push the film into the expected categories. David Oyelowo had momentum going in to today, making his exclusion from the Best Actor category one of the announcement”s most noticeable snubs. With more vacancy, many thought Tom Wilkinson”s performance as Lyndon B. Johnson would pop enough to earn him a supporting nomination. Nope. And even DuVernay”s sprawling cast of veterans and newcomers couldn”t break into SAG”s Outstanding Ensemble top five. It's worth noting that screeners were not in hand, so many didn't get to see the film, but the whiteness of these nominations is blinding nevertheless.
Snub: Year-end releases couldn”t catch early voters” eyes
Like “Selma,” if you were a studio heavy waiting until the final moments of 2014 to launch, you didn”t make the SAG cut. Early voting means early awards season narratives, and the likes of “Unbroken,” “American Sniper,” “Big Eyes” and “A Most Violent Year” couldn”t contend with “Birdman,” “The Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game,” snowballing since festival debuts earlier in the season. Not even Amy Adams could muster up the enthusiasm to carry her into the Best Actress category, leaving plenty of room for….
Surprise: Jennifer Aniston, where did you come from!?
Despite “Cake” playing to middling reviews at this year”s Toronto Film Festival, Cinelou Releasing decided to thrust Daniel Barnz”s melancholy comedy into the awards race in the hopes that voters would take to Aniston”s performance. Apparently, the plan worked. A longshot becomes a legitimate possibility thanks to the SAG bump, her first since earning a nomination for the “Friends” ensemble back in 2004. Could Aniston see her first Oscar nomination in 2015?
Snubs: No Hilary Swank, No Marion Cotillard
This Aniston nomination really stirred the pot. With Roadside Attractions' support and murmurs out of screenings, many believed the fifth Best Actress slot was Hilary Swank”s to take. Maybe “The Homesman” didn”t play as well as suspected? And if there was going to be a rogue fifth nomination, putting money on Marion Cotillard, either for a critics circle favorite like “Two Days, One Night” or the rebounding “The Immigrant,” would have been safe bets. Nope. “Cake” is where it”s at, apparently.
Surprise: “Best Actor nominee Jake Gyllenhaal” is no longer wishful thinking
Any pre-conceived notion that Gyllenhaal”s work in “Nightcrawler” was too crazy(-eyed) to click with the masses and earn him awards love is out the window. An Independent Spirit Award nomination beget a place with the Oscar-likelies, a nod that”s somewhat bittersweet for fans of Dan Gilroy”s unnerving portrait of ambition as the equally fabulous Rene Russo didn”t make the cut in the Best Supporting Actress category. Let”s hope justice can be served come February. Speaking of…
Surprise/Snub: The Best Supporting Actress race comes into focus
With this morning”s SAG announcement, the most malleable, above-the-line category all but cemented major names (Patricia Arquette, Keira Knightley, Meryl Streep) into the Oscar top-five, upped the viability of a few fringe choices (Emma Stone), and cocked a few eyebrows, too. With the Weinstein push behind her, Naomi Watts” Russian stripper from “St. Vincent” trounced Laura Dern (“Wild”) and Jessica Chastain (“A Most Violent Year”) for the final spot.
Surprise: Team “Foxcatcher” still has legs
Out of Cannes, reactions to Bennett Miller”s dirgelike biopic heralded the work of Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Oscar nominations were in the cards. But over the past few months, love for “Foxcatcher” softened and the possibility of the main triumvirate being knocked out of the ring felt more and more likely. Could Carell really go lead in such a competitive year? SAG swooped in as a corrective. Carell is back, Ruffalo is finally singled out for his extraordinary work and… well, someone give Channing Tatum a hug.
Surprise: People remember “The Grand Budapest Hotel!”
Wes Anderson”s madcap European caper became his biggest hit ever after sprinting into theaters this past March. But even with major box office numbers, few predicted “The Grand Budapest Hotel” to bounce back into an overstuffed awards season. That may have been an underestimation. The film that will certainly top a number of “best of” lists seems to have wooed SAG voters with its full package. The Oscars may not have an Outstanding Cast award of their own, but with late-in-the-game hopefuls arriving to so-so reviews, the nod could signal a Best Picture nomination for the Grand Budapest staff.
Snub: “Gone Girl” gone?
Speaking of ensembles, what”s the deal with “The Theory of Everything” staking claim in the category? Praise for Redmayne and Jones is totally warranted, and sure, Charlie Cox was great in the film. But “Gone Girl” should have been destined for that slot, an actor vehicle that found room to detail its plethora of characters. Maybe the SAG voters really love Christian McKay.
Snub: Marvel Studios misses out on the action
Not a category few get hung up on, but Marvel Studios must be feeling bad that they”re two juggernaut blockbusters, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” couldn”t earn a little awards season cred in the stunt department. Sorry, Star-Lord, you”re dancing couldn”t top the jaw-dropping splits performed in “Get on Up.” Try again in your sequel.
(Head to the next page for Dan's TV snubs and surprises.)
Snub: Allison Tolman/Martin Freeman for “Fargo”
Billy Bob Thornton got his nomination, but FX's acclaimed miniseries, winner of HitFix's 3rd Annual TV Critics' Poll, was snubbed for its other outstanding performances, particularly with Allison Tolman, who had to miss out so that SAG could recognize Ellen Burstyn for being hammy in “Flowers in the Attic.” For Martin Freeman, it was a double-snub, since he could have been up for “Sherlock” as well.
Surprise: Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”
It took six nominees, but Tatiana Maslany earned her first SAG Award nomination for “Orphan Black,” allowing for the amusing character listing “Sarah/Coxima/Alison/Rachel/Helena/Tony/Jennifer and Various Others.” And yes, that should be “Cosima,” but just give the voters credit for noticing the BBC America star.
Snub: Jessica Lange for “American Horror Story”
After three straight nominations and a win in 2012, Jessica Lange was shut out for her annual scenery-chewing work in “American Horror Story.” Voters couldn't even fit her into a six-actress field for Outstanding Female Actress in a Drama Series. Cold.
Last year, SAG Awards voters looked silly and out of touch for ignoring “Orange Is The New Black.” This year, the voters look silly and out of touch for ignoring “Transparent,” which means that Jill Soloway's fantastic ensemble, particularly lead Jeffrey Tambor, can expect nominations next year.
Surprise: Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is The New Black”
Uzo Aduba earned a well-deserved guest actress Emmy in August and will presumably move into the supporting field at the 2015 Emmys, but in lieu of a supporting category at the SAG Awards, here she is in the big leagues, perhaps somewhat at the expense of ostensible “Orange” lead Taylor Schilling.