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SAG Awards: A Motley Mix of Contenders in TV Movie Races

Queen Latifah won raves and an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of blues legend Bessie Smith in HBO’s “Bessie,” making her a cinch for a SAG Award bid in the female actor for movie or miniseries category. But not all of the other nominees in the longform heat were so predictable.

Nominations from three Lifetime movies take up most of that category, including one for Nicole Kidman for the long-suffering Cannes-to-cable biopic “Grace of Monaco” (The others went to Christina Ricci in her second turn as the female psychopath in the campy “Lizzie Borden Chronicles” and Susan Sarandon as Marilyn Monroe’s famously mentally disturbed mother in “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe”). Although she actually did star in a Lifetime movie this year, Kristen Wiig rounded out this category for the IFC miniseries spoof  “The Spoils Before Dying.”

On the male actor side, voters stuck to more traditional awards-bait fare, with one wacky exception. Mark Rylance received a nomination for playing Thomas Cromwell in Masterpiece/PBS’s Henry VIII epic “Wolf Hall.” Idris Elba was recognized for BBC America’s soon-to-air “Luther” movie while kudos darling Ben Kingsley gave Spike TV a rarefied awards nom for playing the scheming Grand Vizier Ay in its proudly-touted King Tut biopic. Ray Liotta’s suffering at the Alamo was recognized with a nod for History’s “Texas Rising.” The outlier in the category is Bill Murray, who charmed SAG voters by crooning and clowning as himself in the Sofia Coppola-directed Netflix holiday special “A Very Murray Christmas.”

Surprisingly, neither Oscar Isaac nor Catherine Keener (or any other member of that very large cast) received attention for the HBO miniseries “Show Me a Hero.”

Also conspicuously absent from either category were nominations for actors in critical darlings FX’s “Fargo” and ABC’s “American Crime.” This is due to SAG Award rules that dictate a show cannot continue to compete in the miniseries category if more seasons have been ordered. Jessica Lange has two SAG Award nominations and one win in the female actor in a drama series category for her recurring stints on FX’s “American Horror Story” anthology series.

FX had lobbied SAG to consider “Fargo” and “American Horror Story: Hotel” in the miniseries category but were turned down. As such, the cabler did not submit those shows in the highly competition drama series ensemble race. But individual actors on both shows were submitted in the drama series actor and actress competitions.

(Pictured: “Bessie,” “Grace of Monaco”)

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