Trophy Talk: Today’s Big SAG Award Nominations Winner Was… ‘Trumbo’?

People love watching famous people accept trophies. So, every so often, Uproxx film and TV editorial director Keith Phipps and senior entertainment writer Mike Ryan will speculate about these trophies and which famous person might win one. It will be fun! Let’s talk some trophies! Today, we discuss Wednesday’s surprising SAG Award nominations.

Mike: So, today, the SAG Award nominations were announced and they are … interesting. It’s funny, for years, we’ve heard the SAGs have real weight toward Oscar nominations — as opposed to something like the Golden Globes — because there’s some overlap in SAG voting and Academy voting. But, that kind of went out the window today when most people didn’t really like what SAG came up with. Most specifically: Trumbo. I saw a lot of, “Well, the voting deadline messed everything up.” Anyway, here we are. What are your initial reactions?

Keith: They’re peculiar. Most immediately, I’m struck, as others have been, by the confusion between lead and supporting performances. The Weinstein Company pushed Rooney Mara as supporting for Carol and SAG played along. But it’s really a co-lead, alongside Cate Blanchett. I’ll confess to not yet having seen The Danish Girl, but my understanding is that Alicia Vikander is very much a co-lead in that one, as well.

Mike: I find The Danish Girl decision more peculiar. Obviously, you’re right on both of these cases, but at least, strategically, if the studios get to pick, why would anyone put their two leads in Carol up against each other? I fault the award organizations for all of this, not the studios. If those are the rules, well, those are the rules. I would try my best to manipulate them, too. Some studio favorites like Creed and The Martian were shut out, but I suspect that changes tomorrow with the Golden Globe nominations. Why do we care about the Golden Globes? Everyone a) knows it’s a sham (remember when Patch Adams was nominated?) and b) everyone pretty much acknowledges it’s a sham. Yet, we all choose to pay attention. I’m ready to deem it “important.” Just because it’s so obviously a part of culture now and it’s not going away.

Keith: I feel like the Globes have felt a little less sham-like lately. I doubt the underlying organization is any more legitimate, but at least they’ve been nominating and awarding better films in recent years. Boyhood, for instance, took home Best Drama last year. The Grand Budapest Hotel beat out Birdman in Comedy/Musical. (Sidenote: Not a Birdman fan. I know others feel otherwise.) At the same time, that last category also included Into the Woods, an obligatory nomination if ever there was one. And Amy Adams won Best Musical/Comedy Actress for Big Eyes. She’s great. But that’s not the film for which to reward her. So, why do we pay attention? I think the Globes feel like a snack along the way to heartier fare. Plus, there’s a decent chance more than one person will be memorably drunk at the podium.

Mike: They really have done a nice job of positioning the alcohol consumption as the centerpiece of their trophy ceremony, which gives the whole thing a “wonder what might happen next?” aura. Which, in turn, makes us care about their vote for some reason. And, like you said, they make picks that make people happy. Okay, so Trumbo is an odd choice to have done so well today (I think that movie is … fine), but it’s about Hollywood. Should this be such a surprise? The Artist and Birdman were about Hollywood and both won Oscars for Best Picture! This is a trend! I actually like The Artist and Birdman, but when’s the last time you said, “Hey, let’s watch The Artist tonight?” (Also: R.I.P., Uggie.)

Keith: [Pours one out for Uggie.] Not to dredge up old arguments, but I can’t feel too bad about The Artist winning. I liked it, and if you’d told me at the beginning of 2011 that the Best Picture winner would be a silent, black and white, French film directed by Michel Hazanavicius and starring Jean Dujardin, I wouldn’t have believed you. It wasn’t the best film released that year, but at least it wasn’t expected.

That being said, do these nominations give you any sense of what films will be in the mix when it comes to Oscar nominations? Because they don’t to me, really. I don’t think Trumbo or Black Mass are liked enough to factor in. I can see the acting giving a push to Steve Jobs and The Danish Girl. These suggest that The Big Short, Spotlight, and Carol will be in the mix. Beyond that, I’m not sure what they say. You?

Mike: Funny: In 2011, my editor at the time went to a screening of The Artist at the Toronto Film Festival. He left after like 10 minutes, reasoning, “I’m only here a couple of days and I need to be watching awards contenders: a French, black and white, silent movie has no chance.” Anyway! I mean, I feel fairly sure Spotlight is going to win at this point, right? And that would be great; it’s still my favorite movie of the year. It’s the only one everyone seems to agree on. But I agree, Spotlight and Carol seem to be the only two constants. (Carol didn’t get a best ensemble movie nomination today, but it’s not really a movie that would warrant that kind of award — both leads were nominated, which is pretty much the same thing.) I think Mad Max: Fury Road (shut out today other than for stunts) and The Big Short are coming up right behind. The Big Short seems to be this year’s American Hustle: A movie a lot of people like, but also has a loud, vocal camp of detractors. But we live in a Spotlight world now, right?

Keith: I think so. I’ve found it a little odd that the issues raised by the film — ethics in actual, real-world journalism and the scandal at the center of the film — haven’t spilled out a little more into real-world conversation. But maybe I just haven’t been paying attention in the right places. This only sounds like faint praise — love the film; it’s on my Top 10 list — but it might benefit from being the one movie everyone can agree is really, really good even if there’s more passion behind the support for other films.

Mike: So, is the summation of our SAG nominations analysis, “Some of this matters, some of it doesn’t?” (Which, I guess, describes everything, really.) Stallone missing is … worrisome, if you like Stallone. There are whispers that he’s not the most liked of people by his colleagues, and I wonder if we saw that today. He’s everywhere in critics lists, then SAG snubs him. Then again, Creed was nowhere today and maybe that was more of a “when the screener arrived” issue than anything else. I bet we see Stallone’s name tomorrow.

Keith: I’d love to see Michael B. Jordan, too. He’s great in that movie and together they’re a great team. Looking over my list of the year’s best films, I’m trying to think of any other glaring omissions… I wonder if the controversy around The End of the Tour, namely David Foster Wallace’s family’s lack of support, will hurt that film and that the absence of its stars here is the first sign of that. Kind of surprised to see Tom Hanks not represented, even though Mark Rylance got a nod for Bridge of Spies. I would love to have seen Cynthia Nixon and Christopher Abbott recognized for James White, a little film that could benefit from the recognition. They’re both incredible in that movie. And it would make me happy if Kristen Stewart’s Gotham win for Clouds of Sils Maria would repeat elsewhere. But then wishing good things for smaller movies doesn’t always pay off this time of year.

Mike: And Paul Dano for Love & Mercy. It’s weird: The End of the Tour just feels like it was too long ago. I’m not sure a summer release was the best idea, but I’m sure there was a reason I’m not aware of as I type this. Then again, I saw Love & Mercy at Toronto 15 months ago and it is getting its fair share of buzz. Anyway: No one knows anything.

Keith Phipps is Uproxx’s editorial director of film and TV. You can reach him on Twitter. Mike Ryan is the senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.