SAG Awards: Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Kevin Spacey SAG Awards
Rob Latour/REX Shutterstock

For most of the 22nd Annual SAG Awards, things went as expected, as when a luminous Viola Davis took home her second SAG Award in a year for “How To Get Away with Murder” and film frontrunners Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larson landed top honors for “The Revenant” and “Room,” respectively. But the voters kept things interesting, with a  few notable curveballs — primarily in the TV categories.

SURPRISE:Spotlight” Wins Ensemble
“No way,” Mark Ruffalo said while accepting for the cast of Tom McCarthy’s acclaimed movie. And while not a total shock — the top prize was clearly between “Spotlight” and “The Big Short” — the buzz on the latter has been deafening for the last few weeks, particularly after winning the PGA Award. Both feature large ensembles filled with a great mix of established actors and new faces, but in the end it was “Spotlight” who triumphed.

SNUB: Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Though he has two SAG Awards as a member of the “Mad Men” ensemble, Hamm has never won an individual SAG Award. Many thought this would finally be his year, with the show airing its final episode in May. Instead, it was “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey who won, for the second year in a row.

SURPRISE: Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation” and “Luther”
The supporting actor race seemed wide open, with presumed Oscar frontrunner Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) not nominated for a SAG Award. Many thought it would go to one of the two actors nominated for an Oscar in this category — Christian Bale or Mark Rylance — but instead the prize went to Elba, who was also passed over for an Oscar nom this year. While his win for “Luther” in the TV Movie/Miniseries category wasn’t that surprising, combined with his film win, it proved to be a great night for Elba.

SNUB: The “Transparent” Cast
Overlooked for even a nomination in its first year, many expected the Amazon series to take home comedy ensemble this year. And while Jeffrey Tambor did win actor in a comedy, the rest of the cast went home empty-handed with “Orange is the New Black” winning ensemble for the second year in a row.

SURPRISE: “Downton Abbey” Cast
While there wasn’t necessarily a frontrunner going into the show for drama ensemble, many were betting on recent Emmy winner “Game of Thrones” or the final season of “Mad Men” as the sentimental favorite. Instead, it was “Downton Abbey” who took home the prize against “your TV royalty,” as actress Lesley Nicol described the competition in accepting for the Grantham gang.

SNUB: Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
The well-liked comedian, who teamed with frequent collaborator Tina Fey to present SAG’s lifetime achievement tribute to Carol Burnett on the telecast, went home empty-handed in her final year of eligibility for NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” She’s 0-3 with SAG Award noms to date.

(Elizabeth Wagmeister contributed to this article.) 


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  1. stu freeman says:

    Absolute biggest surprise: Notorious non-actor Demi Moore getting to announce the award for Best Movie Ensemble. Was the board of governors trying to establish that virtually anyone can qualify for an SAG membership card?

  2. Baloci says:

    Sad to see Mara didn’t get recognized by SAG…

  3. Cecil B Da Mill says:

    Edris is a good actor, but really?

  4. Grinne says:

    Rooney Mara snubbed as well. Sorry folks, I think she is way above.

  5. attorneytracey says:

    Ecstatic that Idris Elba won twice over for TV & Film! He is a phenomenal onscreen presence and I was nonplussed to see him get passed over by AMPAS for his brilliant work in “Beasts of No Nation.” Bravo, SAG-AFTRA! You got it right.

  6. Skeff says:

    Considering Mad Men’s last season was actually split into two, effectively given them two seasons of award runs (intentionally for that reason or not but more likely so AMC could get replacement shows lined up), I’m glad it’s not getting accolades.

  7. Love the bias in the article, calling Amy Poehler “well-liked” as if that alone should have gotten her the sympathy vote for the SAG Award, this being her last year eligible for the show … ditto the implication that Jon Hamm should have won because “Mad Men” is over now. What crap, like any other awards it should be about merit and not popularity or sympathy. Sheesh.

  8. MAL says:

    Does anyone even KNOW what a snub is?? Just because someone doesn’t win doesn’t make it a freakin’ snub. The voters did not work together and actively ignore anyone. Stop sensationalizing such mundane stuff and apply some integrity to your coverage.

  9. BillUSA says:

    I disagree that the cast of “Downton Abbey” and actor Idris Elba should be considered surprises. I see no fault in how the actors of “Downton Abbey” portray their characters. They don’t overact or “mail it in” with their performances. As for Idris Elba, pardon my language but he’s a damn fine actor.

    • attorneytracey says:

      I agree! The “surprise” nomenclature denigrates Mr. Elba’s win. Idris Elba richly deserved, earned and won the SAG-AFTRA awards in his respective categories.
      Bully for Downton Abbey as well! (Interesting to see that few of the upstairs crew attended the SAG Awards and the show was repped greatly by the downstairs crew. And, “Mrs. Patmore’s” acceptance speech was so gracious!

  10. Stiler says:

    It still baffles me that the Leftovers got no nominations from this or the emmys. This season was one of the best seasons I have ever seen and the acting was superb by not just one but many people on the show.

    Such a huge step up from the first season and it’s getting snubbed left and right.

    • Season 2 of The Leftovers wasn’t eligible for the past Emmys since it aired the first episode in October, I would bet on it being talked about a lot come time for this years Emmys as I agree, the second the season was fantastic.

    • Totally agree! I think The Leftovers should have won every award going – especially Justin who I thought was amazing this season.

  11. Perhaps, SAG voters (actors themselves) wanted to avoid the “racist-whiteOscar” label?

  12. Jimmy says:

    Really dont understand the nominations of Bale, the performance was good. Nothing more, nothing less.
    Seems more like an ensemble nomination to get one of the actors a solo nom

  13. cadavra says:

    And again, as with the Golden Globes, the comedy categories are dominated and won by shows that aren’t comedies. Either cease with the category fraud or drop these altogether.

  14. AYU_Dyah says:

    Spotlight’s winning is not surprise at all! It is a very well directed, edited and acted. Unlike that overrated Big Short, a pretentious movie who imitated Wolf of Wall Street.

    And you’re wrong for tv categories. The biggest snub was Mr. ROBOT and Rami Malek.

    I love Kevin Spacey and John Hamm, but Rami Malek gave a distinctive, intense, and masterful performance on tv series last year. Beyond what Kevin Spacey and John Hamm have done.

    I dunno why, seems like there’s a conspiracy in media and award bodies to overlook Mr. ROBOT.

    IS it because the series about critism for capitalist and industry? So many people feel offended and need to put Mr. ROBOT Away from recognition it deserves?

    And Fassbender much much much more deserves than overrated Leo in so-so Revenant.

  15. Wong Kar-wai says:

    How is Spotlight winning the top prize a surprise? It is easily the best ensemble of the year. It is only a surprise if you acknowledge that, often, award guilds get it wrong.

  16. idris elba’s wins were the most undeserving

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