SAG Nominations: Biggest Snubs and Surprises

sarah Silverman Silvester Stallone Will Smith
Courtesy of Broad Green Pictures/Warner Bros./Sony

There are always surprises when the Screen Actors Guild Awards announce their nominations — many are still trying to figure out Naomi Watts’ nod last year for “St. Vincent” — and this morning was no exception. On the film side, Helen Mirren walked away the big winner, with three nominations for her work in “Woman in Gold” (lead actress) and “Trumbo” (supporting actress, ensemble.)  And the TV side saw the return of some favorites and a few new additions, including “Mr. Robot” star Rami MalekAs with any awards announcement, there were a few snubs and surprises, which we look at below.

The SAG Awards are the only major awards show that honor only actors, and are voted on by fellow actors, SAG-AFTRA members. The 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards will air at 8 p.m. EST on Jan. 30 on on TNT/TBS.

SNUB: “The Martian” and Matt Damon
A puzzling omission, since both the film’s ensemble and its leading man were considered locks for nods. Damon has been M.I.A. from the campaign circuit, filming the latest “Bourne” movie overseas, but the movie is a runway hit and he’s received endless praise for a performance that often amounts to him acting against himself. Plus, the starry ensemble includes everyone from Jessica Chastain to Jeff Daniels and Kristen Wiig.

SURPRISE: The Entire Supporting Actor Category
It’s a mixed bag, as it’s hard to understand the shut-outs of Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”), Benicio Del Toro (“Sicario”) and Michael Keaton (“Spotlight”), actors considered to be the frontrunners in the Oscar race. But it’s hard to be upset when you see the likes of Christian Bale (“The Big Short”), Jacob Tremblay (“Room”) and especially Michael Shannon (“99 Homes”) making the cut. Of the nominees, only Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”) were expected.

SURPRISE: Sarah Silverman
The actress worked the circuit hard for her dramatic turn in “I Smile Back,” and made the best actress cut over such heady competition as Jennifer Lawrence, Carey Mulligan, Lily Tomlin and Charlotte Rampling.

SNUB: Will Smith and Jennifer Lawrence
Two of the biggest stars in the world were considered locks for their respective movies. In “Concussion,” Smith delivered one of his best performances to date as Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered a link between repeated brain damage and head injuries of NFL players. And as the titular character in “Joy,” Lawrence was expected to score a nod. Yet neither made the final cut.

SNUB AND SURPRISE: The “Spotlight” Cast
While the film received an ensemble nomination, Micheal Keaton was considered a lock for a nod, with Mark Ruffalo and Liev Schreiber were strong possibilities. In the end, it was Rachel McAdams who found herself the only actor individually nominated.

SURPRISE: “Straight Outta Compton”
Not a total shocker, as many expected the musical biopic of N.W.A to slip into the ensemble category. But it’s certainly impressive that the cast of mostly unknowns made it in over the starry ensembles of films like “The Hateful Eight,” “Joy,” “The Revenant” and “Steve Jobs.”

SNUB: “The Hateful Eight”
The film seemed tailor-made for an ensemble nod and there was strong supporting actress buzz around Jennifer Jason Leigh, but Quentin Tarantino’s Western knew it was risky to not send screeners to voters. Tarantino has been here before; his 2012 film “Django Unchained” failed to score any SAG nods after not sending screeners, and still won Oscars for supporting actor Christoph Waltz and original screenplay.

SURPRISE: The Strong Showing of “Trumbo”
Many dismissed the biopic of Dalton Trumbo as a TV movie, but actors took to the performances of the film. It’s not completely unexpected, since the movie is about the film industry and actors love Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren. Still, it’s doubtful anyone expected the movie to score the most amount of nominations for a film.

And on the television side: 

SURPRISE: Rami Malek
To be sure, he delivered the breakout performance of the year in USA’s “Mr. Robot.” That his haunting, enigmatic role landed him a slot on an otherwise ho-hum list is even that more impressive.

SNUB: “Empire”
The ratings juggernaut that is the Fox hit has dominated every aspect of cultural conversation since its launch. And Taraji P. Henson has created an indelible character in Cookie Lyons.

SNUB: “Fargo”
If there’s one show that critics can agree on this season, it’s Noah Hawley’s sprawling midwestern noir thriller. The only mystery is which performance to single out: Jean Smart, Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson. And the only crime is that the SAG Awards manage to ignore them all.

SURPRISE: Maggie Smith
We get it. She can deliver a crackling one-liner like nobody’s business. But six seasons in, can we still call it one of the best five acting performances on television?

SNUB: “The Americans,” “The Leftovers,” “The Affair”
Pick a show, any show. It’s about time SAG Awards started recognizing the great acting work being done on these cable standouts: Carrie Coon, Regina King, Maura Tierney, Keri Russell.

SNUB: “American Crime”
Those 10 Emmy nominations had to stand for something, not to mention a win for Regina King (see “The Leftovers,” above). But a complete shutout is unfathomable for John Ridley’s groundbreaking series.

SURPRISE: Ellie Kemper
After being ignored by the TV Academy at the Emmys, getting recognized by the SAG Awards is sweet justice for Kemper, who deftly carried the Netflix comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

SURPRISE: Kristen Wiig
Wiig is always popular in anything she does, but it’s certainly a surprise to see her recognized for her little seen performance in IFC’s movie “The Spoils Before Dying.”

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  1. FredQ says:

    I guess Al & Jesse be waiting for the Oscars when “Compton” DESERVEDLY gets shut out.

  2. FredQ says:

    Where be Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson ready to raise hell for “Compton” snub?

  3. Mike M says:

    You only have to look at how many of them turn out to vote for their own organization to know the “S” in SAG stands for Stupid.

  4. Michael B Jordan and Titus Burgess.

  5. Miranda Smith says:

    If you have been to SAG screenings then you can understand why a mediocre film like Trumbo has so many nominations. 98% of SAG members are not working so they can identify with the era of the blacklist. Also it’s rare when they nominate the extremely successful .Envy maybe?

    • teriekwilliams says:

      You can have great performances in a mediocre film. The SAG Awards in theory concentrate on acting performances. At the Golden Globes, Trumbo did not receive nominations for directing, writing or best film, awards concentrating on the construction of the film.

  6. stu freeman says:

    Hard to believe that Harvey managed to secure a nomination for Helen Mirren in the hammiest performance of her career but nothing for Hateful Eight. As so often happens, movies that haven’t yet been released lose out to those that have. It’s high time that these awards organizations stopped “rushing to judgment” and held off at least until the end of the year. My guess is that most of those who voted for DiCaprio haven’t yet seen The Revenant either but were convinced by all the “buzz” (also from people who haven’t seen it) that his performance here is awards-worthy. A shame about Charlotte Rampling: she’s the REAL Helen Mirren.

  7. Jake Jenkins says:

    One SAG award win isn’t enough for Kirsten Dunst for her performance in Fargo. Her not being nominated is laughable.

  8. Susan says:

    Jennifer Jason Leigh is still getting nominated for the Oscar. Her SAG snub was purely a screener/deadline issue so she wasn’t even expected to show up here today. She’s campaigning her ass off and getting raves from anyone who’s actually seen the film. At last week’s SAG and Academy screenings (videos up on YouTube), Tarantino, Sam Jackson and Kurt Russell were all kissing her ass about how brilliant she is in The Hateful Eight, in front of packed audience of Oscar voters. Her buzz will grow over the next few weeks, and I can easily see her replacing Mirren or even McAdams on the final shortlist.

  9. Stergios says:

    Wow, these nominations are simply ridiculous. I’ve lost any respect I could have to SAG Awards. Where on earth is Paul Dano for his unforgettable performance in Love and Mercy? And what about Michael Keaton (Spotlight) or Tom Hardy (The Revenant)? Seriously WTF? The Hateful Eight is completely shut out (not even Jennifer Jason Leigh scored a nomination) and then the same goes for Youth and Macbeth, two films packed with extraordinary turns. In the case of the latter, I wonder if they even saw the film because as much as I love Rachel McAdams you don’t nominate her against Marion Cotillard in an iconic role and a haunting turn that could easily earn her a nomination in the Supporting Actress category. I’ve watched I Smile Back and I was pleasantly surprised with Silverman’s work there (she was noteworthy for Take This Waltz as well) but seriously I can’t even put her performance in the same sentence with Charlotte Rampling’s in 45 Years and Joy is clearly a film that even if it doesn’t reach the heights of David O Russell’s recent work obviously remains still constantly interesting and enjoyable, led by another fantastic performance from Jennifer Lawrence. Awful nominations, simply awful. I’ve lost a huge amount of interest even in watching the SAG Awards this year. Michael Shannon’s nomination for his incredible performance in 99 Homes is a great surprise but it can’t make up for the criminal omissions in this year’s nominations. Especially the Supporting Actor nomination is a mess. You can’t even count the criminal snubs in the complete list of nominations. Truly disappointing. I hope at least The Oscars won’t match in some cases at all. Seriously, The Hateful Eight shutout is too hard to swallow. I don’t care about the whole screeners thing, it’s pretty obvious Jennifer Jason Leigh should at least earn a nomination.

  10. Actually the Jennifer Lawrence and Will Smith snub doesn’t surprise me. Both their movies have received mediocre reception and those movies both heavily rely on their leading performances. I’ve seen actors sell a movie completely focused on them and it works but if the performance and the story don’t line up then why praise a performance that is just a performance on its own? Is it really a good performance on its own if the film is about your character and the movie still isn’t good? Just a thought. I mean as a counterargument look at Brie Larson! The film relies on her and a little kid to push the story and in that regard they succeeded! Lawrence’s role and story seems kind of preachy to be honest with you. I am REALLY surprised by Sylvester Stallone’s snub but his Oscar and award talk is just starting so hopefully that will build by the time Oscar noms happen. I really am hoping for him. The underdog always it seems! LOL Michael Keaton though that was a heartbreaker! Especially to give Eddie Redmayne a nomination but not him when Keaton is the one doing much harder character work that doesn’t rely on a physical performance (It’s kind of Redmayne’s thing I’m noticing). I am liking that right out of the gate DiCaprio is getting praised by his fellow actors. Good support for him! If I had to guess. Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson are one of the ones taking the award home this year. Even if Lawence gets late award praise, Larson has a strong movie to back her performance. There is definitely something to be said for the underdogs in the male categories. DiCaprio is pretty much going all out for Best Actor and Stallone’s surprisingly frail return as Rocky could mean this year will be the year of long awaited celebration of these two actors in their own ways. DiCaprio is one of the most defining actors of this or any generation and Stallone has always been that guy everyone underestimates as a powerful character actor. To see these two take it would be a group photo for the ages. LOL As for actresses, Larson just seems the best and the fact the movie she powers is also good says something more for how well she works with the story. Supporting actress is all over the place but Alicia Vikander is looking good (I don’t know for sure if she was supporting or main actress). I think it will come down to her and Mara if it is. Mara is getting almost as much attention just for the fact she didn’t get put in the leading actress category as much as for her good performance. It looks like the younger actresses could take it…but the old dogs could take the actor categories. Even if Stallone doesn’t win, Keaton is practically a lock as well. Especially after some felt he was cheated last year (There seems to be this thing about giving Oscars to really young actors lately for doing good work…but not memorable work. Telling you right now more people liked “Birdman” than they did “Theory of Everything”).

  11. HPR says:

    I think the Martian was a perfectly fine, middle of the road thing. No performance from that stands out as exemplary.

  12. HPR says:

    I think the Oscar nods are going to be quite dissimilar from this list. Like, more than ever.

  13. cadavra says:

    Popularity should not trump quality. Damon was good in THE MARTIAN, but hardly outstanding, and there were many other, finer performances; neither he nor anyone else should be nominated just because their film is a hit.

    And bravo to SAG for pulling TRUMBO back into the race!

  14. LG says:

    another big snub is the Outlander cast, best actor Sam Heughan, best supporting actor Tobias Menzes, best actress Catriona Balfe…. come on people…. how could you have not nominated them? Must not have watched the show…. what a shame.

  15. Quan Pham says:

    They could have chosen either Charlotte Rampling, Lily Tomblin, Jennifer Lawrence or Carey Mulligan over Helen Mirren.

  16. Sherry Riley says:

    Outlander is an amazing series that deserves to be recognized. Very disappointed that it was ignored, especially with the spectacular talents of actors like Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, and Graham McTavish! Tulach Ard!!

    • Angeleno says:

      All the actors you mentioned did very good work this year, but seeing the tremendous, gut-wrenching work that Sam Heughan did in the last two episodes of the season ignored is just a travesty. He pulled off the toughest scenes of any actor on the big or small screen this year.

      That being said, it’s pretty apparent, looking at the nominations, that the SAG awards are simply a popularity contest, not a reward for the best performances of the year. Many of the truly best performances were simply ignored.

  17. Ret says:

    The Leftovers is overrated crap.

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