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Predictions for the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations have become a much harder nut to crack recently. In 2012, SAG merged with AFTRA (The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), which increased their number from about 100,000 to over 165,000. While the Screen Actors Guild is made up of, as the name implies, actors, AFTRA is comprised of primarily non-film and/or television performers. Announcers, broadcasters journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals make up AFTRA and that has resulted in some peculiar nominations.
For those who don’t know, the entirety of SAG-AFTRA doesn’t vote on the nominations (they do for the winners though). A randomly selected group of about 2,500 members from around the country are chosen to nominate the casts and performers for that years Screen Actors Guild awards and most recently we’ve seen some wildly bizarre nominations as a result. Just last season saw an Actress in a Leading Role mention for Sarah Silverman in I Smile Back. It was her only nomination for that performance during awards season. Helen Mirren, although a perennial nominee with SAG (she has 13 nominations) ended up with three, including two individual nominations in Lead and Supporting (for Woman in Gold and Trumbo, respectively). Neither ended up with Oscar nominations. Johnny Depp received a nomination for Black Mass, a performance that most Oscar pundits thought would earn him an Oscar nod – except AwardsWatch. Turns out we were right.
Timing is one of the most important elements of the nominating process with SAG. Because these 2,500 voters don’t necessarily live in Los Angeles or New York City, the availability of screeners from the studios becomes the deciding factor. Last year, the tiny studio behind I Smile Back and 99 Homes (Broad Green Pictures, that got Michael Shannon a nomination here) put everything they had into their screener game and it paid off here.
The Screen Actors Guild submissions window has been open for about a month and closes on October 24th. This is the process where the studios decide what category they want their performers in. Once that decision is made it’s the only place an actor can be nominated. That’s why we saw those nominations for Kate Winslet in The Reader and Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider in Supporting rather than Lead (the opposite happened at the Oscars). Nomination voting opens on Thursday, November 17th and closes on Sunday, December 11th, 2016. That means that all of those movies that have crammed themselves into Christmas releases or single-week Oscar qualifying runs need to ensure that they have screeners ready to go. Quite often, we’ll see a handful of high-profile December releases snubbed at SAG because these screeners aren’t ready. Most recently The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013, Selma in 2014 and also The Revenant last year. Although, eventual winner Leonardo DiCaprio was able to get in. Sometimes the opposite happens; in 2013 American Hustle got in Cast (and won) and but stars Amy Adams (with whom SAG doesn’t really seem to like), Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper were snubbed (until the Oscars). Only the star power of Jennifer Lawrence got an individual nomination (just as she did with Joy last season).
This year is no different in that there are a handful of late December releases that aren’t even finished with their post-production and aren’t getting fall film festival releases. We saw this last year with 20th Century Fox. Two of Paramount’s major Oscar players, Fences and Silence, could be shut out of the top award as a result (something I’m predicting). Look at last year for proof of screener films and early releases making it in over eventual Best Picture Oscar nominees.
The nominations for the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards will be announced on Wednesday, December 14th, 2016. Lily Taylor has already been announced as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Here are my predictions for the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations:
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
The Birth of a Nation
La La Land
Other Contenders: 20th Century Women, Arrival, Bleed for This, Fences, Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea, Silence
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Tom Hanks, Sully
Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation
Denzel Washington, Fences
Other Contenders: Bryan Cranston, Wakefield; Andrew Garfield, Silence; Ryan Gosling, La La Land; Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals; Michael Keaton, The Founder; Miles Teller, Bleed for This, Brad Pitt, Allied
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Viola Davis, Fences
Ruth Negga, Loving
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Other Contenders: Amy Adams, Arrival; Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals; Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train; Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane; Marion Cotillard, Allied; Rebecca Hall, Christine; Isabelle Huppert, Elle; Rachel Weisz, Denial
Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Armie Hammer, The Birth of a Nation
Steve Martin, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Liam Neeson, Silence
Other Contenders: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight; Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water; Aaron Eckhart, Bleed for This; Aaron Eckhart, Sully; Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea; Jeremy Renner, Arrival; Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals; Timothy Spall, Denial
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky
Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Rachel Weisz, The Light Between Oceans
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Other Contenders: Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals; Laura Dern, The Founder; Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women; Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women; Nicole Kidman, Lion; Aja Naomi King, The Birth of a Nation; Katey Sagal, Bleed for This; Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Captain America: Civil War
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Other Contenders: Assassin’s Creed, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Doctor Strange, Silence, Sully