The late Chadwick Boseman made SAG nomination history today receiving four nominations. No actor has ever gotten that many in a single year in the movie categories, but Boseman was nominated for his lead role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, his supporting turn in Da 5 Bloods, plus two more nominations as member of the casts of both those films , truly historic,and a sign of just how much respect his fellow actors have for the star who died of cancer in August , far too young. A remarkable achievement.
In fact making up for what yesterday’s Golden Globes nominations glaringly lacked , the Screen Actors Guild this morning delivered about as diverse a list of nominees as they ever have in their SAG awards show’s 27 year history. Nearly half of the nominees in their four individual acting categories went to people of color, with five Black actors, including the pair for Boseman, and a spectacular showing for the Korean-American Minari which won a Lead Actor nom for Steven Yeun and Supporting Actress for Youn Yuh-Yung. Minari also won an Outstanding Cast nom racking up 3 mentions overall to tie Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Da 5 Bloods, and The Trial Of The Chicago 7 for most nominations overall each with three (the latter two by virtue of also being named for their Stunt Ensembles). All those films were named for SAG’s highly diverse version of their “Best Picture” award in the Outstanding Cast category which also included One Night In Miami (which received an additional nom in Supporting Actor for Leslie Odom Jr.)
SAG Awards Nominations: ‘Ma Rainey’, ‘Minari’ Lead Film List; ‘The Crown’, ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Top TV And ‘Bridgerton’ Arrives – Full List
Becoming the first guild (the nominations are voted on by a randomly chosen nominating committee of 2500 SAG/AFTRA members) to weigh in this year is important, as SAG ideally represents the vote of the industry peers, just like the Oscars and has traditionally served as an uncanny indicator of just which ways the Oscar winds are blowing. Last year’s Outstanding Cast award went to the Korean stars of Parasite, a major signal of what was to happen Oscar night with that film, even though none of them had received individual SAG or Oscar noms. Nevertheless the momentum from that SAG win was palpable for Parasite, All four single acting awards (Joaquin Phoenix, Renee Zellweger , Brad Pitt, Laura Dern) repeated at the Oscars as well. In most years SAG gets about three out of four in common with the Academy, occasionally just half.
In addition to the great showing for diversity this time around, the really big news is that right behind the leading films in terms of nominations was – wait for it – Hillbilly Elegy. That’s right. The critically reviled (not from me, folks) Ron Howard adaptation of J.D. Vance’s best seller got two nominations for its stars, Amy Adams in Female Actor , and Glenn Close in Female Supporting Actor. This will drive the know-it-all pundits up a wall, at least those who think they have the pulse of the industry. Hillbilly Elegy managed more SAG nominations than the likes of presumed favorites Nomadland, Mank, Sound Of Metal, Pieces Of A Woman, and more which received only one nomination today from SAG, or critics group darlings like First Cow, Never Rarely Sometimes Always which received no love from SAG.
Among those whose Oscar chances just dimmed with the one-two punch of being overlooked by the Globes and SAG in the past two days are Delroy Lindo (though he is included in the Da 5 Bloods SAG Cast nom), Sophia Loren, Ben Affleck (who has been waging a spirited campaign for The Way Back), George Clooney, Kate Winslet, Zendaya, John David Washington, and Paul Raci. Although she was Globe nominated, the absence at SAG of Mank’s Amanda Seyfried was a dent in her Oscar chances and a surprise omission , especially considering that SAG did nominate Gary Oldman in his Lead Male Actor category, so you can’t chalk it up to liking the movie or not.
In terms of building on momentum they have been gaining throughout this weird season, today’s nominations only further cemented some claims to variable front-running status for The Father’s Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman; Sound Of Metal’s Riz Ahmed; Pieces Of A Woman’s Vanessa Kirby; Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’s Maria Bakalova , Trial Of The Chicago 7’s Sacha Baron Cohen, plus the aforementioned Boseman , and his co-star Viola Davis. Daniel Kaluuya , with his Globes and now SAG supporting noms for the late breaking Judas And The Black Messiah is also gaining in the race. And similarly so is Jared Leto, so brilliant and deserving for another late breaker, The Little Things, who is getting nominated where it counts, at the Globes and SAG. He should not be overlooked and these nominations are great signs for him, particularly that his fellow actors know a fine performance when they see one.
As an early , somewhat lonely champion of Hillbilly Elegy I am so happy for the SAG recognition of Adams and Close, the latter now with back to back Globe and SAG mentions regaining early momentum for her performance that was overshadowed when critics started piling on the unfairly vilified movie. Both stars also made it through the first rounds and are on BAFTA’s long list today. Nice. I would have loved to see Globe nominees Michelle Pfeiffer and Bill Murray also win SAG love, as well as The Life Ahead’s magnificent Loren, but there is only so much room I guess.
As for studios scorecard, it is just starting to look like a blowout for Netflix this season with 13 nominations in the SAG motion picture categories , distantly followed by Amazon with 4 , and A24 with 3 all for Minari which may be the little engine that could this year, and is the only major Outstanding Cast nominee not on a streamer, but set to play in theatres when it has its general release next week. Following the success of Parasite at SAG and the Oscars last season, this is an emerging story to watch.
Next up will be the often predictive Critics Choice nominations coming Monday.