5 Reasons This Year’s Oscar Season Is a Hot Mess

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Trumbo’ leads Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.

The Oscars race officially kicked off on Wednesday with the Screen Actors Guild nominations that saw “Trumbo”, a biopic about a blacklisted 1940s screenwriter, score the most nominations. On the television side, Netflix’s political drama “House of Cards” led the field with three nominations, for best actor (Kevin Spacey), best actress (Robin Wright) and best cast performance in a drama series. Idris Elba was nominated for best supporting actor in the child soldier drama “Beasts of No Nation.” He is the sole individual minority nominee in the movie categories of the 22nd annual SAG nominations announced Wednesday. “It goes without saying that my performance is shared with the tremendous actors I work with,” wrote Elba, congratulating his “Beasts” co-stars Abraham Attah and Kurt Egyiawan as well. The ensemble cast category — somewhat of a parallel for potential best picture nominees — was quite varied, as award season favourite “Spotlight” got a much-predicted spot.

Five lessons learned from the early spotlight: No pundits anticipated that the indie film starring Bryan Cranston as blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo would dominate the SAG proceedings. Of the six women nominated in the Outstanding Performance by a Cast category, only Mirren (for Trumbo) and Rachel McAdams (for Spotlight) have what you might consider prominent, important roles in their films. (Both are also nominated in the supporting performance category.) Mirren plays famed gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, while McAdams plays one of the Boston Globe reporters who breaks the story of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. On Monday, the African-American Film Critics Association named the N.W.A drama their best of the year, but it’s been mostly overlooked by other critics’ awards. But while the predominantly black casts of both “Beasts” and “Straight Outta Compton” were recognized for their ensemble work, alongside “Trumbo,” ”Spotlight” and “The Big Short,” individual acting nominations in most film categories exhibited a striking lack of diversity. Trumbo’s two other nominees, Diane Lane and Elle Fanning, play the family members of the title character — classic roles to which women are often relegated in male-heavy films.

Leading female performance nominees included Cate Blanchett (“Carol”), Brie Larson (“Room”) and Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn”), all of whom have dominated awards buzz, but also Sarah Silverman for the depression indie “I Smile Back,” and Helen Mirren for “Woman in Gold,” about an elderly Jewish woman looking to reclaim art once stolen by the Nazis. The acting categories were much more predictable, with Johnny Depp (“Black mass”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”) all getting nods, along with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (“Carol”), Brie Larson (“Room”) and Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”). The film centering on The Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Church’s child abuse coverup still garnered two nominations, best ensemble and an unexpected supporting actress nod for Rachel McAdams. Fear of piracy is not enormous with screeners if a movie title is already available digitally; it’s also not a big worry on the TV side, since the episodes have already aired. A surprise snub was “The Martian,” a blockbuster about an astronaut stranded on Mars, which was considered a sure bet by industry experts both for the film’s ensemble and its star Matt Damon.

Mara and Vikander both have significant onscreen time in their respective movies, which has led some awards prognosticators to criticize their “supporting actress” campaigns. Overall, there were more diverse individual nominees in television than film, thanks in part to the fact that TV divides nominees into comedy and drama, which provides more inclusion. The acting lists were fairly standard with prestige dramas, though newcomers Ellie Kemper (Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and Rami Malek (USA’s “Mr. In addition to Elba’s nod, other TV nominees included Queen Latifah for “Bessie,” Uzo Aduba for “Orange is the New Black” and Viola Davis for “How to Get Away With Murder.” The SAG nominations also helped bring a murky awards season into a bit better focus. Aside from “Spotlight” this season’s main players should come further into focus on Thursday when the nominees are announced for the Golden Globe Awards.

Some November-December openers did well in SAG Awards noms, including “The Big Short,” “Carol,” “The Danish Girl” and “The Revenant.” Other late-year entries, like “Concussion,” “Creed” and “Joy,” did not. Nominees are selected by separate movie and TV nominating panels, each comprised of more than 2,000 randomly selected SAG members, and the organization’s choices highlighted a few underdog performances.

And though Trumbo boasts a slightly better gender balance, it’s still, mostly, filled with men. (On the diversity front, no women of color are nominated in any category anywhere. But I would call it a year of progress.” The drama I Smile Back has grossed a minuscule $59,000 since opening in October to stark reviews (at aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, 55% of critics liked it, while just 48% of audiences did).

Those two films, along with the romantic drama Brooklyn (which received a single acting nomination for lead Saoirse Ronan), and the Charlize Theron–sporting Mad Max: Fury Road (a surprise hit at the various film critics awards that have occurred over the past week) had previously been identified as potential award-show contenders in a year when many Oscar hopefuls have told stories that centered on women — a marked contrast to previous years. And though Damon heads up The Martian, it also features great supporting performances from women like Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, and others. Both films are from the same company, Broad Green Pictures. “They have done an excellent job of grass-roots campaigning and voters clearly responded,” says Scott Feinberg, awards columnist for The Hollywood Reporter.

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy and Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight cast, both SAG no-shows, could be explained by the films’ late release (both in theaters Christmas Day) and limited screenings. Other surprise snubs: Carey Mulligan for Suffragette, Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years and the seemingly rising support for Sylvester Stallone returning to his Rocky roots in the hit Creed. That film received some positive buzz prior to its release, but it’s turned out to be a bit of a mess, garnering mostly middling reviews and knocking out the obvious choice for a female-driven Best Cast nominee. This often prevents voting members from fully absorbing late-breaking contenders, which this year include the boxing drama Creed, the aforementioned Joy, and the as-yet-unreleased Quentin Tarantino film The Hateful Eight (which, while mostly male, features terrific work from Jennifer Jason Leigh). As the season goes on, it seems likely that Trumbo will slowly fade while other films rise in prominence, leading to an Oscars that skews slightly more diverse.

In the past three years, women have comprised about 30 percent of the Best Cast nominees — not great, but better than this year’s 16 percent — while in 2011, the nominees were 64 percent women, thanks to films like The Help and The Butler. As Hollywood makes more and more great films about women, fewer and fewer of them are being recognized with major awards — even when they seem to be prime award-show bait.

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