June 15, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

SAG Awards nominations correct Golden Globes, predict Oscars

The Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations are out, providing, in some cases, a necessary corrective to the strange Golden Globes slate that came a day before (no mention of “The Prom” or “Music” here). “Da 5 Bloods,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “One Night in Miami,” Black-led movies that failed to make the motion picture drama cut at the Globes, were all nominated for SAG’s film ensemble award, as was “Minari,” the excellent immigrant drama that picked up just one Globe nomination.

Of course, SAG voters also gave “Hillbilly Elegy” two nominations (Amy Adams and Glenn Close), so the choices weren’t beyond reproach, though you could make the case that voters simply wanted to salute these great women for trying their best under difficult circumstances.

In that case, Daveed Diggs deserves some kind of prize, simply for scrolling for six minutes, trying to find Lily Collins’ name on Instagram Live so they could announce the SAG Awards nominees. (“I’m too old to be on Instagram, to be honest with you,” he said, smiling.) But then, Diggs did earn an attaboy — a SAG nomination for male actor in a miniseries or television movie — for his dual role star turn in “Hamilton,” something of a surprise as he leapfrogged over co-stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. for the honor.

As just three movies have won the the best picture Oscar without also earning a SAG Awards film ensemble nomination, the day’s news could be read as disappointing for David Fincher’s “Mank.” The movie, a look at the creation of “Citizen Kane,” picked up a nod for star Gary Oldman, but came up short in two categories where it was predicted to land — ensemble and supporting actress (Amanda Seyfried). (Think about it. “Hillbilly Elegy” earned more nominations than “Mank.” That’s going to make for some interesting conversations at Netflix today.)

“Nomadland,” something of a best picture Oscar frontrunner after winning early love from critics groups, was also absent in the ensemble category, though its exclusion was expected. The film, starring Frances McDormand as a woman finding community among wanderers after losing her job, features three real-life “nomads” among its five primary cast members, making it a non-starter with this guild group.

Of all the season’s contenders, “Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung’s delicate drama about a Korean couple moving to a farm in the heartland to stake a claim for a more meaningful life, might have received the day’s biggest boost, earning nominations for film ensemble, lead actor Steven Yeun and supporting actress Yuh-Jung Youn.

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival grand prize and audience award winner opens in theaters on Feb. 12 (it will be playing at Los Angeles area drive-ins) and will arrive on video-on-demand two weeks later. Its distributor, indie powerhouse A24, is also launching a screening room for virtual showings.

The other film ensemble nominees include three Netflix titles — Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” the film adaptation of the August Wilson play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and the Aaron Sorkin courtroom drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7 — along with Amazon’s “One Night in Miami,” the Regina King-directed adaptation of Kemp Powers’ play that imagines what might have went down when Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown met after Clay won the heavyweight title.

All five films should be seen as likely Oscar nominees for best picture, with “Nomadland” and, yes, “Mank” rounding into the group. “Promising Young Woman” could also find its way in, though its showing with SAG Awards voters (just a nomination for lead Carey Mulligan) was somewhat disappointing. Many prognosticators had it earning an ensemble nod too.

The late Chadwick Boseman picked up nominations for two of the nominated ensemble films, earning a lead actor nod for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and a supporting nom for “Da 5 Bloods.” In an unsettled awards season, Boseman winning the lead actor Oscar for his final performance as the passionate horn player in “Ma Rainey” is likely the year’s one lock.

Boseman also made history here, picking up a record four nominations on the film side — the two individual honors, plus cast mentions in his ensembles. Maggie Smith and Jamie Foxx had also earned four nods in a single year, but for work in both film and television.

One final film thought: Jared Leto has … momentum? A day after earning a surprise Golden Globe nomination for playing a serial killer in “The Little Things,” which premiered a few days ago on HBO Max and in theaters, he’s back again, joining Boseman, Sacha Baron Cohen (“Chicago 7″), Odom (“Miami”) and Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) in the supporting actor category. Maybe voters found out he lost his Oscar and want him to have another prize? If you have a better explanation, I’m all ears.

SAG voters also offered a number of rejoinders to the Globes on the television side. Netflix’s addictive, escapist melodrama “Bridgerton” earned nominations for drama ensemble and lead Regé-Jean Page.
“I May Destroy You” star Michaela Coel was recognized for her celebrated turn in the HBO limited series.

“The Crown” and “Schitt’s Creek” led the television nominees, earning five nods apiece, a likely indication that both will eventually prevail in the ensemble categories. The strangest category might have been lead actress drama, which seemed to indicate that the random sampling of 2,500 SAG-AFTRA members voting on the television side, might have watched only two shows this year. The group nominated three women from Netflix’s “The Crown” — Gillian Anderson, Olivia Colman and Emma Corrin — and Julia Garner and Laura Linney from Netflix’s “Ozark.”

But then, it’s been a crazy year and we’ve all had other things to think about.

The 27th SAG Awards ceremony is scheduled to air Sunday, April 4, on TNT and TBS, with an encore to follow immediately on TNT. The show is to be reimagined as a one-hour special; no host has been announced.