SAG Awards 2016: Who Will Go the Distance?

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Trumbo,’ Idris Elba emerge: 5 takeaways from the SAG Awards nominations.

LOS ANGELES — Ensemble nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards highlight diversity in both film and television, including nods for “Beasts of No Nation,” ”Straight Outta Compton” and “Orange is the New Black.” Yet, individual nominations, especially for movies, remained largely white — only adding to concerns this will be yet another monochromatic awards season.Alongside surprises, like the biopic Trumbo grabbing the most nominations, and snubs, like The Martian and star Matt Damon being ignored and left on the award season equivalent of Mars, was something a little disquieting.

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. But Cranston was nominated for best actor, Helen Mirren for best supporting actress (one of three nominations for Mirren) and the cast was put forward as best film ensemble. 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.

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”). Spotlight, with its heralded cast, was expected to rule, especially in the best supporting actor category (Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton), where it was surprisingly denied.

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. 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. On the televisions side, the list reads similar to the most recent Emmy awards, as favourites “Veep,” “Transparent,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men,” and “Modern Family” all landed ensemble nominations — though Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele” was a newcomer to the comedy category.

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. 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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