SAG Awards Nominations Make a Messy Awards Year Even Messier

Screen Actors Guild voters boosted “Minari” and hurt “Mank,” but their own idiosyncrasies didn’t do much to make the awards picture clearer

"Minari" / A24

One day after Golden Globes voters overlooked actors Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn from “Minari,” Screen Actors Guild Awards voters celebrated those performers and their film.

About 26 hours after members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association only nominated actors of color in two of their eight television categories, SAG Awards voters made sure that nonwhite actors were represented in four of their six.

And with nominations on back-to-back days, SAG and the Globes didn’t do much to clear up an extended, disheveled and confused awards season.

In fact, some of the choices made by the SAG nominating committees served to throw things in greater disarray. David Fincher’s “Mank” may have been the most nominated film at the Golden Globes, but SAG voters left it out of the marquee category, ensemble cast, and also overlooked Amanda Seyfried, who had been considered one of the favorites in the Best Supporting Actress category. And while Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” made the cut in the ensemble category, lead actor Delroy Lindo wasn’t nominated for his titanic lead performance; the film’s only individual nomination went to the late Chadwick Boseman, who was also nominated for his lead performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

With those two individual nominations, plus noms as part of the ensembles of both “Ma Rainey” and “Da 5 Bloods,” Boseman became the first person with four SAG film nominations in a single year, a posthumous showing that could turn this awards season into a celebration of his short career.

The SAG Awards did keep the momentum going for Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which did well at the Globes and led all films with 15 entries on the BAFTA longlists that were announced earlier on Thursday. They gave “Minari” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” a boost after the Globes didn’t, and they singled out not just supporting actress Glenn Close but lead actress Amy Adams from “Hillbilly Elegy,” which the voters may turn out to like a lot more than the critics did.

They also gave 12-year-old German actress Helena Zengel her second supporting-actress nomination in two days for “News of the World,” and Jared Leto his second for “The Little Things”; both performers had seemed to be on the bubble going into this week, and both come out of it looking stronger.

But it had to hurt “Sound of Metal” that supporting actor Paul Raci, a critics’ favorite, has now been overlooked by both SAG and the Globes. Ditto for six-time Oscar nominee Ellen Burstyn, who couldn’t get enough love from either group for her performance in “Pieces of a Woman,” though the film’s lead, Vanessa Kirby, did.

While the SAG ensemble category went more or less as predicted, with “Minari” sliding into a spot that many thought “Mank” would occupy alongside “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami” and “Da 5 Bloods,” it does mean that “Nomadland” has missed an opportunity to make a strong statement. The Chloe Zhao road drama is the critics’ clear choice as the year’s best film – and since the cast is made up mostly of nonprofessionals, it was never a favorite to land a SAG ensemble nod. But if it had done so, it would have cemented its frontrunner status; without that nomination, the race will continue to be tight.

In the TV categories, meanwhile, SAG turned out to be far more inclusive of actors of color than the Globes had been, with “Bridgerton” actor Rege-Jean Page coming as one of the biggest surprises in the nominations, along with Daveed Diggs getting a nod over his “Hamilton” costars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr.

Based on the nominations, though, it looks as though the upcoming SAG Awards show may be a love-fest directed at “The Crown” and “Schitt’s Creek,” with those two shows accounting for 10 nominations between them.

One more SAG takeaway: The messy and chaotic nominations announcement suggested that Instagram Live is not be the best way to do this, and then Diggs and Lily Collins managed to make the mess somehow likeable.

Go figure. It’s that kind of year.


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