What a difference a week can make! On Wednesday, the first official precursor to the Oscars, the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG), revealed their nominations for the best of 2015. This is significant because actors are the biggest percentage of Academy voters and SAG nominations usually forecast Oscar’s quite nicely. Its our first glimpse into what actual voters are thinking and they certainly pondered up some huge surprises.
For Best Ensemble, SAG’s Best Picture equivalent, they predictably nominated Spotlight— a great ensemble if there ever was one this year– and unpredictably snubbed every other perceived frontrunner to nominate films that had all but fallen out of conversation; Trumbo, Straight Outta Compton, The Big Short, and Beasts of No Nation. This is a shot in the arm to all these films campaigns– a Best Picture nomination is now possible for each of them. Trumbo came away the biggest winner of the day with three nominations but Beasts of No Nation and The Big Short came surging back into the race with a pair apiece. Leonard DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Eddie Redmayne, and Michael Fassbender all predictably got their Best Actor nominations but the real surprise here is the show of love for Bryan Cranston in Trumbo which was very exciting for fans of the performance, myself included. Best Actress had two surprises; Helen Mirren in the all-but-forgotten Women in Gold, and Sarah Silverman for I Smile Back. Brie Larson, Soairse Ronan and Cate Blanchett all predictably received their nominations confirming their perma-stasis in this race. Best Supporting Actor holds the most surprising set of nominees yet, entirely snubbing widely perceived frontrunners, Spotlight duo Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, as well as every gent from gent-heavy The Hateful Eight, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Hardy, and Benicio del Toro. In their place, SAG laid their favor at the feet of Christian Bale (The Big Short), Michael Shannon (99 Homes), Jacob Tremblay (Room) and most excitingly Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation). Mark Rylance was the only nominee who wasn’t at least a slight surprise. Many more expected faces fill the Best Supporting Actress field; Rooney Mara, Alicia Vikander, Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams– surprisingly the only individual Spotlight acting nominee. The surprise in this category takes the familiar form of Helen Mirren for her work in Trumbo. As you can see, instead of clarifying the Oscar race the SAGs just complicated matters all the more.
Then, on Thursday the Hollywood Foreign Press Association released their nominations for the best in film and television, known as the Golden Globes (GG). While there is absolutely no voter overlap between the Golden Globes and the Oscars, they have come to be a reliable-ish predictor of what’s to come that it’s worth paying attention to them. Their nominations certainly look a lot closer to what we’ve come to expect the Oscar nominations to look like with bids for; Spotlight, Carol, The Revenant, Room, The Martian, Alejandro G. Iñúrritu, Ridley Scott, Tom McCarthy, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Rooney Mara, Alicia Vikander, Soairse Ronan, Mark Rylance, Sylvester Stallone, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The Globes also confirmed that a couple surprise nominees from the SAGs were no fluke honoring; The Big Short, Bryan Cranston, Christian Bale, Michael Shannon, and Idris Elba as well as the absence of all Spotlight actors. Finally the Golden Globes gave fuel to the growing campaign of Mad Max: Fury Road nominating it for Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director for George Miller.
With all this in mind I will update my picks for the top Oscar categories.
With citings from both the GGs and the SAGs, Spotlight retains its frontrunner status. The lack of acting nominations could be telling though. Films rarely win Best Picture without at least one acting nomination. Can another film eek past this one at the end?
Other contenders come and go, but Carol just continues to get stronger. Blanchett and Mara had yet to miss a nomination, despite the category they are put into, and the Globes cited them for Best Picture and Director. There seems to be a lot of passion surrounding this film and at all levels of film making. Carol will likely be one of the most nominated films of the year.
3. The Revenant
This epic survival story isn’t quite dominating the talks enough to be the frontrunner for the top category, but the incredible craft involved keeps it very high on the lists and with the Leo likely winning, we could see a groundswell of support around this breathtaking film.
SAG nominating Jacob Tremblay is a good show of support behind the film. It’s yet to be seen if he can make the final line up in a constantly shifting Best Supporting Actor race, but a Best Picture nomination seems all but certain at this point.
While missing a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture stings, it isn’t entirely telling of Brooklyn‘s place in the race. The beautiful, well-respected film should still score a nomination for Oscar’s Best Picture.
6. Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road gained a lot of traction this week. Not only did it get a Golden Globe nom for Best Picture – Drama but George Miller also made the cut for Best Director. In addition, the Australian Film Institute revealed their winners recently and Mad Max swept the ceremony taking home eight awards, including Best Picture. It’s gaining steam…
7. The Hateful Eight
Though it was entirely overlooked by SAG, The Hateful Eight snagged a couple Golden Globe nominations for Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress and Score. The writer/director’s previous film, Django Unchained, was similarly overlooked by SAG and GG but still took home two Oscars. It’s still too early to bet against Tarantino.
8. Bridge of Spies
While Bridge of Spies did not have a very good week outside of Mark Rylance, Spielbergs name still matters a great deal in awards talks. War Horse got a Best Picture nomination ladies and gentleman. If that hackneyed corn can get in, so can this.
9. The Martian
While managing Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor – Comedy nominations at the Globes, The Martian was all but ignored by the SAGs. Does Ridley’s overdue narrative have the fuel to go the distance?
10. Beasts of No Nation
It had seemed has if buzz had fizzled on Netflix’s powerful war drama, but the SAGs and GGs brought it roaring back to life. Not only did Elba get mentions from both groups, but it was nominated for Best Cast at the SAGs which is incredible for a movie with almost no named cast. Apparently the passion is hot for this one, at least among the acting branch. Lets hope it can cross over into Oscar success as well.
11. Inside Out
12. Steve Jobs
14. The Big Short
SAG noms boost Trumbo and The Big Short closer to the top ten. Creed falls a couple of spots for being ignored by the SAGs. Inside Out still peering in, hoping for another to fall. Joy was released this week to tepid reviews, taking it out of conversation entirely.
1. Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
2. Todd Haynes – Carol
3. Ridley Scott – The Martian
4. Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
5. George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
These five match the GG noms currently, but unless Tarantino hits it out of the park on The Hateful Eight or J.J. Abrams blows us all away with Star Wars: The Force Awakens who else could make a play here? George Miller moves into the top five due to the groundswell of support behind Mad Max: Fury Road at the moment.
6. Lenny Abramson – Room
7. Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
8. Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies
9. Danny Boyle – Steve Jobs
10. Cary Fukunaga – Beasts of No Nation
Cary Fukunaga joins the top ten, but other than that relatively no change. We don’t have a Director precursor until the Directors Guild nominations come out January 12th. Until then it’s all a guessing game.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
2. Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
3. Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
4. Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
5. Johnny Depp – Black Mass
Cranston came out of no where, but I’m completely delighted by his showing up here. I thought he was the best part about Trumbo and, lets face it, theres absolutely nothing wrong with Academy Award Nominee Bryan Cranston. Leo still looks set to win this getting nominated from both SAG and GG. Redmayne and Fassbender popped up both places too solidifying their spots in the race. Johnny Depp is suddenly on shaky ground– the Golden Globes failed to nominate him and they nominated him for The Tourist. He was recognized by SAG, however keeping him barely in the top five.
6. Will Smith – Concussion
7. Matt Damon – The Martian
8. Tom Hanks – Bridge of Spies
9. Ian McKellan – Mr. Holmes
10. Michael Caine – Youth
Smith and Damon still have what it takes to upset a couple people above them. The rest, however, are looking less and less likely. Lets see if this race has any surprises left in it.
1. Brie Larson – Room
2. Soairse Ronan – Brooklyn
3. Cate Blanchett – Carol
4. Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
5. Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Joy finally debut to mixed reviews which all but killed its Oscar talks entirely. Jennifer Lawrence received positive reviews but is it enough to keep her in contention? Right now I’m predicting yes, but that could change very quickly. GG nominated her but SAG did not. Ronan has become a frontrunner in recent days topping several critics lists as well as securing a nomination form both SAG and GG. She looks to be Larson’s main competition for the prize.
6. Lily Tomlin – Grandma
7. Carey Mulligan – Suffragette
8. Blythe Danner – I’ll See You in My Dreams
9. Maggie Smith – The Lady in the Van
10. Helen Mirren – Woman in Gold
Tomlin’s G G nom helps here. Can she take Lawrence’s last slot? Could Mirren’s surprise SAG nom repeat at the Oscars? This category got even more exciting in the last week. Stay tuned.
Best Supporting Actor
1. Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
2. Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
3. Sylvester Stallone – Creed
4. Michael Shannon – 99 Homes
5. Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
This category, more than any other, was completely upset this week. Perceived frontrunners failed to get nominations of any kind while surprises dominated the category. Elba, Rylance, and Shannon earned nods from both SAG and GG securing Rylance’s spot in the race and getting Elba and Shannon in competition. Stallone was nominated by the Globes but ignored by the SAGs. Will Oscar still show him love? I think one of the Spotlight actors is bound to get in, just due to sheer love of the film. Ruffalo has the showier part so I’m going with him, but honestly in this category, your guess is as good as mine.
6. Michael Keaton – Spotlight
7. Jacob Tremblay – Room
8. Tom Hardy – The Revenant
9. Benicio del Toro – Sicario
10. Christian Bale – The Big Short
Snagging a SAG nomination was huge for Tremblay, but he could still miss out on the Oscar. It just depends on how much people love Room. Keaton is interchangeable with Ruffalo at this point. They’ll likely vote spit and one will get in, but which one? Del Toro has all but fallen from conversation. Is Hardy’s absence from SAG and GG nominations due to his films late release date or because he’s not a contender? We’ll have to wait until Oscar morning to see. Bale surprised by popping up here, but he’s a fantastic actor who could pretty much get in doing anything, so it’s not that shocking.
Best Supporting Actress
1. Rooney Mara – Carol
2. Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
3. Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
4. Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
5. Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
This category hasn’t changed much, but it could look vastly different on nomination morning. While the SAGs nominated Mara and Vikander in Supporting where they’re being campaigned, the GGs nominated them both in Lead Actress where they belong. If either of them go lead expect a couple of surprises like Helen Mirren or Kristen Stewart. McAdams moves back into the top five for being the only actor singled out by SAG for a nomination.
6. Helen Mirren – Trumbo
7. Kristen Stewart – The Clouds of Sils Maria
8. Jane Fonda – Youth
9. Elizabeth Banks – Love & Mercy
10. Marion Cotillard – Macbeth
Mirren came out of absolutely nowhere and snagged nominations in both the SAGs and the GGs. If the Oscars go gaga for Trumbo or if either Mara or Vikander go lead, expect her name to pop up. Stewart failed to garner a nomination this week sinking her a few spots. She could still surprise. The rest are pretty unlikely.
Hope you enjoyed this update. The Critics ChoiceAwards nominations come out tomorrow and while there is not voting overlap with the Oscars, it will likely bring recognition to a couple frontrunners, namely Spotlight, Carol and Mad Max: Fury Road if the gods are good.
What do you think of this weeks changes? Is your head spinning as fast as mine? Let me hear from you in the comments!
Author: Radcliff Weir, @radcliffweir