Wednesday morning’s Screen Actors Guild nominations were packed with surprises. SAG recognition will add momentum to certain frontrunners, like Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”), Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (“Fences”), Natalie Portman (“Jackie”), and Emma Stone (“La La Land”), but several other films will have to wait for other awards groups to support their Oscar bids.
The SAG nominating committee, which changes every year, often tends to be a tad more mainstream than the Oscars, and this year they went rogue by giving British star Emily Blunt a precious Best Actress spot for “Girl on the Train” (Universal), which has not figured in any awards mentions thus far. Paramount musical comedy “Florence Foster Jenkins” also had a very good day, scoring surprise nominations for Comedy Globe-nominees Meryl Streep as a wealthy opera diva well as a supporting nod for Hugh Grant as her husband.
But SAG also went defiantly indie, showing the impact that targeted early campaigning can have, awarding Ensemble and Best Actor nods to Bleecker Street’s scruffy family dramedy “Captain Fantastic” and Globe nominee Viggo Mortensen, respectively. “Captain Fantastic” is showing unexpected strength moving forward toward the Oscars.
Early frontrunner “La La Land” (Lionsgate) failed to land the ensemble cast nomination, which often presages a Best Picture win: last year, Oscar-winner “Spotlight” took home the Ensemble SAG award, and SAG winner Brie Larson (“Room”) went on to collect the Best Actress Oscar. Musical two-hander “La La Land,” which led the Golden Globes with seven nominations, did win SAG slots for Actress Emma Stone and Actor Ryan Gosling.
Kenneth Lonergan’s intense drama “Manchester by the Sea” (Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions) led the SAG field with four nominations, landing an Ensemble Award as well as nods for Acting frontrunner Casey Affleck and supporting players Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams.
Also landing an Ensemble slot amid a diverse lineup was Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” (A24), which scored nominations for Supporting Actress Naomie Harris and Supporting Actor frontrunner Mahershala Ali, respectively. “Fences” also nabbed an Ensemble slot, along with Fox’s “Hidden Figures,” whose Globe-nominated Octavia Spencer got the Supporting Actress nod over co-star Jonelle Monae.
(Last year, SAG Best Ensemble nominations for Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation” and Universal hip-hop biopic “Straight Outta Compton” did not go on to land acting Oscar nods.)
Also gaining steam is Weinstein Co.’s true story “Lion,” whose supporting players Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman both landed SAG mentions.
Among the actresses, while Globe drama nominee Amy Adams (“Arrival”) scored a slot, Blunt took a spot away from Globe drama nominees Isabelle Huppert (French foreign entry “Elle”) and Ruth Negga (“Loving”) or respected Globe Comedy nominee Annette Bening for “20th Century Women,” which has yet to open and may recover some ground heading into Oscar voting in January.
Also overlooked was actor Joel Edgerton (“Loving”) who did score a Golden Globe nomination, as well as Tom Hanks, who has now been snubbed by both the Golden Globes and SAG for his role as hero Captain Sullenberger in Clint Eastwood’s “Sully.” Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals,” which scored three Globe nominations, did not land any SAG love.
Picking up a spot, as he did at the Globes, is Andrew Garfield for Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” who is steady as they go, as he will get an extra boost for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming “Silence,” which arrived too late for the studio to send screeners, Paramount confirmed. (Late arrivals in the past, from Scorsese’s “Wolf of Wall Street” to Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” recovered and landed Oscar nominations.)
Best Actor nominees Affleck, Washington, Mortensen, Garfield and Gosling now move forward into Oscar contention with wind in their sails.
Actors who land noms from SAG alone are more likely to get an Oscar nod than from the Golden Globes alone. Get both groups, and you have better odds of landing an Oscar slot. Those who get neither reduce their chances.
Clearly, there will be some changes among Oscar nominees from SAG —Academy voters always bring some classy additions to the mix like last year’s Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”)— but the winners are usually closely matched. The SAG Ensemble award, especially, often presages the eventual Oscar Best Picture winner.
What’s odd this year is, so far, Damien Chazaelle’s escapist musical romance “La La Land” has outpaced rival dramas “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.” That won’t happen at the SAG awards on January 29, 2017.
Here are the nominees in five motion picture categories:
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading role:
Amy Adams “Arrival”
Emily Blunt “Girl on the Train”
Natalie Portman “Jackie”
Emma Stone “La La Land”
Meryl Streep “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Outstanding performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Casey Affleck “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington “Fences”
Cast in a Motion Picture
“Manchester by the Sea”
Outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role:
Viola Davis “Fences”
Naomi Harris “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman “Lion”
Octavia Spencer “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams “Manchester by the Sea”
Outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role:
Mahershala Ali “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges “Hell or High Water”
Hugh Grant “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Lucas Hedges “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel “Lion”
Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble: Motion Picture
“Captain America: Civil War”