With the 1,183 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ acting branch voting, it’s not surprising that most thesps nominated for an Oscar also match the performances earlier feted by the Screen Actors Guild.
This year was no different. In the lead actor and actress categories, four of the SAG noms matched what the Acad felt: Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”) George Clooney (“The Descendants”), Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) and Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”) made both lists, with Gary Oldman (“Tinker Tailor Solder Spy”) making the Oscar shortlist instead of Leonardo DiCaprio (“J. Edgar”).
On the distaff side, Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs”), Viola Davis (“The Help”), Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”) and Michelle Williams (“My Week With Marilyn”) made both lists. SAG nominee Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) was replaced by Rooney Mara (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”).
On the supporting side, the two sides thought exactly the same way — Berenice Bejo (“The Artist”), Jessica Chastain (“The Help”), Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”), Janet McTeer (“Albert Nobbs”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) for the ladies. Only Max von Sydow (“Extremely Loud …”) made the Oscar noms cut when he didn’t fare as well with SAG. Conversely, Armie Hammer (“J. Edgar”) was supported by his guild but not by the Acad.
The four who made both lists: Kenneth Branagh (“My Week With Marilyn”), Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”), Nick Nolte (“Warrior”) and Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”).
In the 17-year history of the SAG Awards, 86% of its lead actress nominees and 82% of its lead actor nominees have gone on to win Oscar nods as well. And that’s not taking into account the occasions when SAG has placed a performance in lead — Jennifer Connelly in “A Beautiful Mind” and Benicio Del Toro for “Traffic” — that Academy voters later deem a supporting turn.
When the two bodies differ, experts say, it’s a result mostly of timing. This year, SAG members had to turn in their ballots by Dec. 12. With a Jan. 13 deadline, Academy voters had an extra month to watch movies and sift through their stack of screeners.
“There are always late game-changers that aren’t around when the SAG nominating committee votes,” says Sasha Stone, founder and editor of the Awards Daily website.
SAG’s earlier voting deadline also helps actors when their movies are the first to arrive in members’ mailboxes. This year, Mexican-born thesp Bichir received a SAG nomination for his critically praised work in “A Better Life,” a film that was one of the first DVD screeners out of the gate.
Hitfix.com’s Kristopher Tapley, exec editor of the In Contention blog, says the guild tends to reward actors at both ends of the age spectrum — young thesps such as Evan Rachel Wood for “Thirteen” and “Billy Elliot’s” Jamie Bell, as well as performers like Gena Rowlands (“Unhook the Stars”).
“Ever since they snubbed Lauren Bacall for Juliette Binoche, I think that sentiment alone (for older actors) is no longer enough to sway a vote with the Academy,” says USA Today film writer Susan Wloszczyna, talking of 1996 when Binoche won the supporting actress Oscar for “The English Patient,” beating Bacall in “The Mirror has Two Faces.”
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