The nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced this morning, and the absence of SWEENEY TODD from the Best Motion Picture Ensemble category was a major shock, as was the lack of a nomination for Johnny Depp’s performance as Sweeney. The SAG nominations seemed to be out-of-step with other awards predictors this year: Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil notes that “only one of the films widely presumed to be a current frontrunner” for the Best Picture Oscar received a nomination for SAG’s Best Ensemble: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. “Missing were ATONEMENT, SWEENEY TODD, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, MICHAEL CLAYTON, and JUNO,” writes O’Neil. That’s a very impressive set of movies to overlook, so exactly which movies did SAG deem worthy of Best Ensemble nominations? 3:10 TO YUMA, AMERICAN GANGSTER, HAIRSPRAY, and INTO THE WILD. What did these films have going for them? Timing. They were released early enough in the year so the nominating committee had a chance to see them.
The SAG Best Ensemble award has only matched the Oscar Best Picture winner in 5 of the 12 years of the SAG’s existence, so it is by no means a surefire predictor of Oscar success. Still, this year’s curious slate of Best Ensemble nominees has Hollywood pundits scratching their heads and searching for explanations. One inescapable conclusion: films that had not had major theatrical releases when the nominating ballots were due were largely ignored by the voters. Notes O’Neil, “No ensemble nods [. . .] for ATONEMENT, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, and SWEENEY TODD could be due to the fact that these films, still not in wide release, had not been seen by some of the 2,100 members of the SAG nominating committee spread out across the country. [. . .] DVD screeners play a big role. ATONEMENT did send out DVDs, but not till the tail end of the race and it opened late in the calendar year in theaters (December) and so managed to get skunked. Late-breaking CHARLIE and SWEENEY did not send out DVDs and paid a high SAG price.”
The Zone thanks Intodadepps for the O’Neil article and many thoughtful contributors who posted on the SAG awards thread on the News & Views forum. You can read all of Tom O’Neil’s musings here: http://goldderby.latimes.com/ For the section on the SAG nominations, scroll about halfway down the page. –Part-Time Poet