Tue. Sep 22nd, 2020

Six Things To Watch Out for from the SAG nominations

Earlier this week, I made the brave decision to be wrong about every single one of my predictions about which actors would receive double-nominations at the Golden Globes. It’s something I will work on with my therapist, once I figure out how to make Dr. Akopian from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend more than just my own personal Dream Ghost.

Our fearless leader over at AwardsWatch central, which as you expect, is actually headquartered inside a life-size Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award blimp, asked me if I could whip something up about the upcoming SAG Awards now that the Golden Globes have been announced. Daunted, I pondered to myself: Could I do it? Could I put together another post, that would be so spectacularly wrong? Could I once again suggest something along the lines of  a Reese Witherspoon snub only to watch her and her southern accent get nominated for The Morning Show?

But I’m no quitter. I love being wrong, it’s my birthright as an American. So, here are the six things to watch out for from the SAG nominations this week:

Jennifer Lopez: Oscar Winner?

It was a rough start to the critics’ awards circuit for J. Lo. The alarm bells went off when the first critics award of the week, the NYFCC, a group expected to be partial to Bronx-born Lopez, Hustlers and anything Cardi B-related, gave their Best Supporting Actress trophy to Laura Dern for the Little Women-Marriage Story double whammy. But never count out Jenny from the Block. She got back in the game with a win at the LA Film Critics and now a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Ramona in Hustlers.

That film could also benefit from a shot of adrenaline with a Film Ensemble nomination, but let’s keep our eye on the prize here: An Oscar Nomination for Jennifer Lopez, and my personal favorite performance of the year. Not only will showing up at SAG make her a more solid lock for a nomination, it puts her back in the conversation for a win come Oscar time.

Ford v. Ferrari: Revving Back?

Ford v. Ferrari seems to be – don’t say it – running out of gas. It could use a major tune-up before they blow out a tire and need an oil change or maybe just get more windshield wiper fluid and a warrantee renewal? I don’t know: Car stuff!

The point is, it seems that this major contender does seem to be faltering, as other tough Dad Movies, are hitting much later and much bigger (see: Richard Jewell and 1917). Christian Bale managed to score a Best Actor – Drama nomination at the Golden Globes, but a disproportionate number of major contenders are in the Best Actor – Comedy category (DiCaprio, Murphy, Egerton). His co-star, Matt Damon a Globes favorite (seven nominations, two wins) was shut out of the supporting category as was Director James Mangold and the film itself. Pump those breaks!

Ford v. Ferrari will likely pick-up a few below-the-line Oscar nominations, but to keep it from becoming this year’s First Man (a slot most naturally taken by Ad Astra) it’ll need to show up in some capacity at the SAG awards. Otherwise, it’ll be a total lemon. OK, I’ll stop now. 

Best Actor Bloodbath

For the first time in years, the Best Actor race is the most interesting, packed of the season. Are men back? No! But still: So many good performances! Of the Golden Globe nominees, you could imagine all of them cracking this year’s Oscars Top 5, with the sad exception of Daniel Craig (which shouldn’t be an exception because he is divine in Knives Out).

The only two real locks here are Adam Driver and Joaquin Phoenix for their varying levels of loud work in Marriage Story and Joker, respectively. That leaves seven actors vying for those last three spots: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Adam Sandler, Taron Egerton, Jonathan Pryce, Antonio Banderas, Christina Bale and Roman Griffin Davis.

Roman Griffin Davis, was something of a surprise Golden Globe nod for his lead work in Jojo Rabbit, and while the SAGs do like younger actors, the Oscars don’t, so I wouldn’t expect him to show up past the Globes. Of the actors listed above, DiCaprio and Banderas seem like the only ones who can afford to be snubbed by the SAGs, while not seeing their Oscar chances completely diminish. Pryce, a beloved character actor looking for his first individual SAG nod (and Oscar nomination) could really use the late-breaking affection for Two Popes to continue with SAG, while everything with Murphy always seems tenuous. I’m nervous for him.

The ones who SAG seems make-or-break for are: Robert De Niro, Adam Sandler and Taron Egerton. No one is campaigning harder than Taron Egerton for Rocketman, and its one of my favorite performances of 2019. I didn’t love the movie, but it’s interesting to me that another so-so musical biopic (ahem, Judy) released early in the season (not May, but September) with a superlative lead performance can be riding so high, while Taron has been consistently on the bubble for Rocketman. Also, I call him Taron. Because we’re friends. The SAG bump would do the most for him. And for our friendship.

For Robert De Niro, missing a Golden Globe nomination wasn’t a huge deal, especially considering he’s nominated as a producer of The Irishman. But it is a hiccup. He went, quietly, from someone who could challenge Phoenix and Driver for an Oscar win, to suddenly having his nomination itself be in question. I’m surprised, considering how divisive Marriage Story and Joker have been that the narrative for one of our greatest living actors to join the rarified air of three-time acting Oscar winners hasn’t gained more traction. A SAG nod will get things back on track.

And what do you do about a problem like Adam Sandler? Does anyone want Adam Sandler to be an Oscar winner? Does Adam Sandler want to win an Oscar? Do they even make tuxedos with cargo pockets? A SAG nomination will either put him back in the race (after missing out on the Golden Globes) or solidify his status as a surprising, but overlooked performer definitively proving he is more than Billy Madison.

The Knives, They Gotta Be Out

The feel-good murder mystery of the year, is basically changing Hollywood. It’s an original piece of IP (!) that is making lots of money (!!) and solidifies Jamie Lee Curtis’s status as the most bankable actor in Hollywood (!!!). Also: Chris Evans sweater. It had a great showing at the Golden Globes, with nominations not just for Best Film – Comedy/Musical, but also for the aforementioned Daniel Craig as a Kentucky Fried Poirot and Ana De Armas’s A Star Is Born (2018) performance. In another year, she’d be a real dark horse for a Best Actress nomination at both SAG and the Oscars, but this year’s field is too tight.

That said, Knives Out has a good shot at not just being a crowd-pleaser that makes you believe in something without the word Star or Infinity or War in the title. SAG loves to nominate these kinds of sprawling casts (see: Bobby, How to Make an American Quilt) for Best Film Ensemble. They love it even more when the film is good (Boogie Nights, The Help) and the most when the film has a sprawling cast, is good and also happens to be a murder mystery taking place at a palatial estate (Gosford Park). A Best Film Ensemble nomination – or even a win – would be a major signal that this great, fun movie is a real player for the Oscars.

When They See Us

To the surprise of few, the biggest story from the critics awards is how many of them are going for Lupita Nyong’o’s puzzle box performance in Us, a horror film released last spring.To be fair, it’s one of the best performances of the year, one that is physical, emotional, scary, exhilarating. I know we’ve been burnt on this genre missing out on big awards in the past (I’m looking at you, Toni Collette for Hereditary), but something about Lupita’s performance, narrative and Critics Awards dominance feels different.I think that’s because – here’s me stepping out on that limb – the Best Actress race isn’t nearly as locked up as everyone thinks. Conventional wisdom has four spots going to: Ronan (Little Women), Theron (Bombshell), Zellweger (Judy) and Johansson (Marriage Story), leaving, sadly, four women of color, Nyong’o (Us), Awkwafina (The Farewell), Erivo (Harriet) and Woodard (Clemency), theoretically vying for the fifth slot. However, I think that Theron and Ronan’s grasp on their spots are slipping (someone, sadly, has to be the Amy Adams of this awards season). Awkwafina and Erivo both landed Golden Globe nominations (with Awkwafina a likely winner), and as mentioned Nyong’o is the critical favorite. Nyong’o breaking into the SAG nomination, leapfrogs her from on-the-bubble to real contender. And that’s something I’d love to be right about.

The Screen Actors Guild nominations will be announced on December 11th at 7am PST.

You can follow the further misadventures of Eddie Mouradian on Twitter @eddie_mouradian and Instagram @emouradian

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