Monday, December 14, 2015

Oscar Race: An Analysis of the 2016 SAG Award Nominees [Contributor: Chelsea Eichholz]

In spite of the fact that numerous critics groups and circles i New York and Los Angeles announced the winners for the various film awards of the year, it wasn't until the SAG nominees were announced that I felt like we finally had some answers as to what could be in play for this year's Oscars. Usually by this time, we have a multitude of frontrunners that are competing against one another (like Boyhood vs. Birdman last year, and Gravity vs. American Hustle vs. 12 Years a Slave the year before). This year is proving to be an odd year where no nominee has broke out of the pack and become the clear choice as to what should win.

With this and the Golden Globes nominees being announced this week (see that analysis later), we finally have an idea as to what could possibly take home the gold. What gives SAG the edge over the Globes though is that voters in the Academy's acting branch are also members of the Screen Actor's Guild.


Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture  
Beasts of No Nation
The Big Short
Straight Outta Compton

Happy Surprises
Straight Outta Compton

The Martian
Steve Jobs

Frontrunner (so far)

With the sole exception of Braveheart taking the Oscar during the first year of SAG's Best Ensemble award, one can look at any SAG ensemble nominee list and see the year's Best Picture winner at the Oscars. That is just the nominee list though: the winners of this category only go on to win the Oscar for Best Picture about 50% of the time, but one can bet that this year's frontrunner Spotlight will also go on to win Best Picture, as the rest of this list feels weak compared with previous years. While I love seeing Straight Outta Compton here, I still do not think it has a great chance at being nominated at the Oscars, though it would be fun to be proved wrong. It's shocking that the actors didn't go for the blockbuster Martian or the Sorkin drama when compiling their lists.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role  
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Johnny Depp, Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Happy Surprises
Bryan Cranston

Matt Damon

Frontrunner (so far)
Michael Fassbender

This category will remain a mystery until the rest of the world finally sees The Revenant. While Fassbender may have the edge now for his wonderful portrayal of the iconic Steve Jobs, if DiCaprio and The Revenant prove to be a hit upon release, I think Leo will finally take the Actor and the Oscar. Like Best Ensemble, it seems like a weak year for leading men in film.

Unrelated, it's disturbing how much Eddie Redmayne's Lili looks like my friend Erin.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role  
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back

Happy Surprises
Sarah Silverman

Lily Tomlin
Jennifer Lawrence

Frontrunner (so far)
Brie Larson

Unlike the decision the Globes made this year about category fraud, SAG went along with the lead actresses campaigning for supporting statues, which opened up this field for some great out-of-the-box choices. While Brie Larson gave my favorite performance of the year, I love seeing Sarah Silverman's image shattering performance given some recognition by her peers, along with Helen Mirren's elegant turn in the delightfully simple Woman in Gold. It does make you wonder though how the voting body reacted when they saw Lawrence in Joy. Could the awards be getting sick of the JLaw/Cooper/DeNiro mash-ups?

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role  
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Jacob Tremblay, Room

Happy Surprises
Jacob Tremblay

The men of Spotlight

Frontrunner (so far)
Mark Rylance

While Brie Larson is my favorite performance of 2015, her young costar is such a close second. Room is Tremblay's story and we are all just readers trying to understand the world along with him. In a fair and just world, he would be winning all the awards in lead actor. He is the most believable child actor and following him from the world Ma created in "room" to the real world was just an experience and an honor.

For actual actors that were supporting characters, Mark Rylance gave the best performance in that category. It is unfair to pit his supporting performance against Tremblay's leading performance but I feel like people will want to reward Rylance for his career. And with the men of Spotlight being overlooked, I feel like it will be a very easy decision for them.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role  
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Happy Surprises
Rachel McAdams

Joan Allen

Frontrunner (so far)
Rooney Mara

Back to the category fraud and confusion: Mara and Vikander are both lead actresses in supporting roles and while they may have been nominated here, they both also received Lead Actress nominations at the Globes, making the two female categories the most interesting race to watch.

For Carol, The Weinstein Company doesn't want the two lead actresses battling it out, so they put veteran Blanchett in Lead and Mara in Supporting, even though Mara won the acting award at Cannes for the role already. That is the only reason I give Mara the edge over Kate Winslet, someone that had me leaving the theater believing she had a second Oscar in the bag. Adding in Rachel McAdams and her powerfully subdued performance in Spotlight, and we have one of the fiercest categories in years. I cannot wait to see how this pans out.


Minor warning: much like the Globes, the SAG Awards really only respect film, and TV is just filler at the award shows. If they had any real respect for TV actors, they would separate lead actors from supporting and it wouldn't look like an IMDB roulette board.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series  
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men

Happy Surprises

The Good Wife
Orphan Black

Frontrunner (so far)
Downton Abbey

There's never any telling about what will be nominated, but this year they managed to nominate every boring choice possible. Even they know they aren't trying anymore. All of the nominees are perfectly fine and established shows, but they also are all way past their prime and have seen better days. Take some notes from the Globes, SAG awards, and look at what's streaming these days.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series  
The Big Bang Theory
Key & Peele
Modern Family
Orange is the New Black

Happy Surprises
Key & Peele

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Jane the Virgin

Frontrunner (so far)
Orange is the New Black

All the failings in the drama ensemble are almost made up for when we see the comedy nominees. Key & Peele is literally a two person ensemble and its nomination comes after the series finale. I am rooting for them even though I love OITNB and Veep more than most things.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series  
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Happy Surprises
Rami Malek

... Where do I even begin?

Frontrunner (so far)
Jon Hamm

Outside of Rami Malek, this category makes me yawn. Next please.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series  
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Happy Surprises
Julianna Margulies

Tatiana Maslany

Frontrunner (so far)
Viola Davis

One day Tatiana Maslany will be nominated for and win an award. It will happen. It has to happen. Aside from Julianna Margulies, for my thoughts, see my reaction to drama actors.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series  
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Louis CK., Louie
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Happy Surprises
... Meh.

Titus Burgess

Frontrunner (so far)
Jeffrey Tambor

Hard pass on this category.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series  
Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Happy Surprises
Ellie Kemper

Gina Rodriguez

Frontrunner (so far)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Finally, a great TV category. The actresses represented in this category are easily four of the best performances on any platform represented, and I will be happy to see any of them win. Ellie Kemper is my personal favorite but I won't be mad at any of these ladies taking home an award.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
Idris Elba, Luther
Ben Kingsley, Tut
Ray Liotta, Texas Rising
Bill Murray, A Very Murray Christmas
Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall

Happy Surprises
Bill Murray

None, this is a great list.

Frontrunner (so far)
Idris Elba

This list actually resembles film's Supporting Actor a bit. Hmm.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco
Queen Latifah, Bessie
Christina Ricci, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
Susan Sarandon, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
Kristen Wiig, The Spoils Before Dying

Happy Surprises
Christina Ricci
Kristen Wiig

Kirsten Dunst
Rachel McAdams

Frontrunner (so far)
Queen Latifah

The SAG Awards always have a little more fun when it comes to the category of TV Movies and Miniseries. The inclusion of the more soapy performances of Ricci and Sarandon, along with Wiig killing us with comedy, is a nice change of pace from the usual dramatics.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble
The Blacklist
Game of Thrones
Marvel’s Daredevil
The Walking Dead

Motion Picture: 
Furious 7
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

They don't announce either of these during the actual program, but let the record state that I am #TeamDareDevil and #TeamFurious7.


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