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SAG Nominations: Biggest Snubs and Surprises

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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