Is “Spencer” star Kristen Stewart still an Oscar contender without a SAG nomination? It can still happen — she’s in the running for a BAFTA nomination, and their longlists were also announced today — but the Screen Actors Guild Awards are more reflective of where Academy actors are heading.
That said: SAG and the Oscars don’t always line up. That’s often a question of timing: some late-breakers (like MGM/UA’s “Cyrano,” whose star Peter Dinklage was snubbed by SAG but not BAFTA) aren’t seen by enough of the SAG nominating committee. SAG voters are both more mainstream and younger than the Academy’s dominant actors branch. And there’s more of them: each year, SAG selects a new nominating committee of 2,500 members, about double the Academy voters.
Last year, Netflix’s “Da 5 Bloods” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” landed in the SAG Ensemble without advancing in the Oscar Best Picture race, along with “One Night in Miami.” Only Netflix’s eventual SAG winner “Trial of the Chicago 7” and A24’s “Minari” landed slots. SAG revealed how popular “Minari” was, as SAG nominee Steven Yeun landed an Oscar nod, and his costar Youn Yuh-Jung took home a gold statue. But assuming Stewart lands an Oscar slot, she’s unlikely to win. In the history of the SAG Awards, no one has won the Best Actress Oscar without a prior SAG nomination.
As the Academy has diversified and become more international, its taste often diverges from SAG voters. Three of the last four Best Picture Oscar winners (“Nomadland,” “The Shape of Water,” and “Green Book”) did not land an Ensemble nomination.
That’s why Netflix isn’t stressed that Jane Campion’s critics’ favorite “The Power of the Dog” isn’t in the Ensemble category. It still leads the field, along with “House of Gucci” (which also received three nominations), for Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee. All are considered locks for BAFTA and Oscar nominations. With seven mentions, Netflix outperformed any other movie distributor.
SAG reveals widespread support among actors for such crowdpleasers as Kenneth Branagh’s 1969 memoir “Belfast,” which scored only one acting nomination (Supporting Actress and BAFTA-mentioned Caitriona Balfe); BAFTA contenders Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds likely knocked each other out.
Tennis biopic “King Richard” saw a SAG nod for Leading Actor Will Smith, but no Aunjanue Ellis (both included by BAFTA); Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci” scored expected slots for both bigger-than-life Lady Gaga and Jared Leto (along with BAFTA); Sian Heder’s “CODA” (AppleTV+) landed Supporting Actor Troy Kotsur but no Emilia Jones (both mentioned by BAFTA) or Marlee Matlin.
Adam McKay’s doomsday satire “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix) landed Ensemble but no Leonardo DiCaprio (both included on BAFTA). So far he has not campaigned for a Best Actor slot. SAG also ignored Jennifer Lawrence, who was long-listed by BAFTA, along with Oscar longshot Meryl Streep.
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The British Academy Awards’ sprawling long lists will be whittled down to actual nominations to be announced February 3, with the BAFTA Awards ceremony held on March 13. Like last year, committees added diversity to many of the long lists. Of the BAFTA Best Film list of 15, only “Dune,” “No Time to Die,” and “The French Dispatch” landed no SAG nominations.
With a guaranteed 10 Best Picture contenders this year, we can expect all five SAG Ensemble nominees to land on the Oscar list, along with “The Power of the Dog.” All are on the BAFTA shortlist of 15, along with Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon), which did not land in Ensemble but scored not only a Leading Actress spot for Nicole Kidman, but also for Javier Bardem (his wife Penelope Cruz was shut out of both SAG and BAFTA for Pedro Almodovar’s “Parallel Mothers”).
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tick, Tick, Boom” (Netflix) scored an Actor nod for BAFTA-mentioned Andrew Garfield and could make it to Best Picture as well, and late-breaking, BAFTA-shortlisted Shakespeare drama “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (AppleTV+) landed only an Actor slot for star Denzel Washington. His non-campaigning costar, three-time Oscar-winner Frances McDormand, did not place in Lead Actress at SAG but did at BAFTA.
Steady as they go are likely BAFTA and Oscar nominees Jessica Chastain (whose transformative performance in Searchlight’s “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” compares to SAG and Oscar nominee Charlize Theron in “Bombshell”) and Olivia Colman in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix). Two actresses landed needed BAFTA and SAG boosts for their Oscar bids: Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in MGM/UA’s August release “Respect,” and in Supporting, Ruth Negga for Rebecca Hall’s “Passing” (Netflix).
Also adding credibility to his Oscar campaign for mainstream heart-tugger “The Tender Bar” is Ben Affleck, who has been making a comeback publicity push, including a candid EW cover interview with chum Matt Damon, his “Last Duel” cowriter and costar. With a 53 Metascore, however, “The Tender Bar” did not win over BAFTA and may not win over the Academy.
Only Cate Blanchett managed supporting SAG and BAFTA mentions for Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight), while star Bradley Cooper did land in Supporting at both BAFTA and SAG for his colorful turn as producer Jon Peters in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza,” which could repeat on Oscar nominations morning. Popular acting discovery Alana Haim was left out by SAG, but long-listed by BAFTA.
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As for Steven Spielberg’s well-reviewed musical remake “West Side Story” (Disney), Broadway import Ariana DeBose’s standout performance as Anita landed in Supporting Actress at BAFTA and SAG, but no Ensemble. Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for Anita in 1962, Mike Faist, and David Alvarez nabbed just Supporting BAFTA mentions. In a competitive year for strong ensemble casts, “West Side Story” should easily slide into many categories on Oscar nominations morning. But the movie faltered at the box office, and could have used more SAG support.
Those who fantasized about a foreign-language follow-up to Bong Joon-Ho’s surprise SAG contender “Parasite,” which won the ensemble award and went on to win the Best Picture Oscar, were disappointed. SAG did not recognize Japanese Oscar entry “Drive My Car” (Janus), which swept the New York, Los Angeles, and National film critics groups. The shortlisted Oscar contender is a powerful competitor for Film Not in an English Language at the BAFTAs as well as the Best International Feature Film Oscar, and might also land Oscar nominations from the Directors and Writers branches.
When “Parasite” made it to Ensemble, it gave Neon the confidence to go all in on a bonafide Best Picture Oscar contender. It was a sign that the movie was mainstream enough to go all the way. Whatever you think of “Drive My Car,” it’s not mainstream.
On the BAFTA documentary list of 15, only “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry,” “Flee” (which also landed an non-English language slot), “The Rescue,” “Summer of Soul,” and “The Velvet Underground” are also Oscar shortlisted.