Following the Golden Globes’ ethic that nearly every working film actor deserves a nomination, it is always a bit of a shock to see the Screen Actors Guild nomination list, which cites 50% fewer thesps in the lead categories. Of course, none of the 80 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will be casting nom ballots for the Oscars (announced Jan. 22), a fact that is not true of the 2,100 nominating SAG voters, who overlap heavily with the Academy membership of thesps. In other words, look to SAG, not the HFPA, to forecast the upcoming Oscar picks.
Regardless of who does the voting — foreign journalists, domestic crix or fellow actors — comedy tends to get short shrift, and that prejudice prevails again this year. SAG’s big crunch-down from the HFPA’s Globes eliminates almost all of the latter org’s nominees who gave comic perfs. The only two left standing are Ryan Gosling (“Lars and the Real Girl”) and Ellen Page (“Juno”). In SAG’s acting-ensemble category — which seems to stand in as the org’s equivalent of its picture slot — only “Hairspray” makes the grade, along with the dramatic pics “3:10 to Yuma,” “American Gangster,” “Into the Wild” and “No Country for Old Men.”
Laffers rarely get the awards attention they deserve, and yet in the pantheon of American cinema, it is often the comedies that don’t grow old. “Gandhi,” for example, swept the awards in 1983, but it is “Tootsie” that plays as fresh and original as the first day it unspooled.
The big loser in the 2007 SAG sweepstakes, however, is a musical. “Sweeney Todd” failed to bring home a nom for its ensemble, as well as for leads Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. Also shut out is “Atonement,” which has not fared particularly well with crix orgs but garnered three thesp noms from the Globes.
Despite SAG’s preference for more serious-themed fare, some big-name dramatic actors (Denzel Washington, Philip Seymour Hoffman) aren’t on the nom list that includes, in addition to the aforementioned Gosling, George Clooney (“Michael Clayton”), Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”), Emile Hirsch (“Into the Wild”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Eastern Promises”).
The actress noms also tend to ignore the smiling in favor of the frowning half of the SAG emblem. Besides Page, the org likes Cate Blanchett (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”), Julie Christie (“Away From Her”), Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en rose”) and Angelina Jolie (“A Mighty Heart”).
In the supporting-role categories, it is drama all the way with no comic turns cited. The male actors nommed are Casey Affleck (“The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”), Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”), Hal Holbrook (“Into the Wild”), Tommy Lee Jones (“No Country for Old Men”) and Tom Wilkinson (“Michael Clayton”). On the distaff side, it is Cate Blanchett (“I’m Not There”), Ruby Dee (“American Gangster”), Catherine Keener (“Into the Wild”), Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”) and Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton”).
In view of the Golden Globe noms, “Into the Wild” emerges as the big SAG winner. Maybe the foreign-journalist voters didn’t respond to this very American road story, which got shut out in all major categories there. Or did the pic’s notoriously PR-shy director, Sean Penn, simply not provide them enough press-junket obeisance?
Regardless, SAG went for their fellow actor’s directorial work in a big way, giving “Into the Wild” more noms — four — than any other film.