‘Belfast’ and ‘The Power of the Dog’ Were Left Out of Crucial SAG Noms – Where Does the Oscar Race Stand?

Spencer House of Gucci Power of the Dog
Spencer: NEON; House of Gucci: MGM; Power of the Dog: Netflix

The 28th annual Screen Actors Guild Award nominations were equally shocking and validating for this current awards season. At the tail end (hopefully) of a global pandemic, the awards season just threw down the gauntlet in the acting races, with 15 days left until voting opens for the 94th Oscar nominations on Jan. 27 and closes on Feb. 1.

The moral of the story is that no film had a “clean” day, meaning there is no undisputed frontrunner in any category, most notably best picture. By conventional Oscar punditry standards, “Belfast” looks to be out front, landing of two nominations including the crucial SAG ensemble category, and supporting actress Caitríona Balfe. Despite that, all the men were shut out from the acting categories, most notably Jamie Dornan and Ciarán Hinds in supporting actor. Does that doom the duo’s Oscar chances? There have been cases in SAG history of one of two actors from the same movie being snubbed and then getting an Oscar nom (i.e., Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith from “Gosford Park”) but not with both having a resurrection. This could point to a vote-splitting problem or worse yet, only one of them will end up making the cut. But which one?

Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog,” despite co-leading for the most nominations, missed out in the crucial cast ensemble category. For what has become a strong indicator for the best picture Oscar, awards pundits and historians have pointed to the top SAG category to explain previous winners such as “Moonlight” (2016) over the SAG-snubbed “La La Land” at the Academy Awards.

20th Century Studios’ “West Side Story” had a lackluster showing. After critical acclaim poured in for the remake of the 1961 musical, many speculated that Steven Spielberg’s first outing in the genre could be a potential spoiler for the Oscars. That notion may have been put to bed today with only star Ariana DeBose representing, without her co-stars Rachel Zegler, Rita Moreno, Mike Faist and David Alvarez. Despite Spielberg’s considerable place in cinematic history, only two of his previous films have been nominated for the SAG’s top award — “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and “Lincoln” (2012), and neither won.

In the case of “Power,” landing noms for Benedict Cumberbatch in best actor, Kodi Smit-McPhee in supporting actor and Kirsten Dunst in supporting actress can’t be dismissed. While the SAG ensemble miss is definitely a blemish for its campaign, three of the last four best picture winners were able to win the Oscar without a correlating ensemble nom — “The Shape of Water” (2017), “Green Book” (2018) and “Nomadland” (2020).

The lead actress category was upended by the snub for Kristen Stewart from “Spencer.” Reviews for the Neon and Topic Studios drama have been strong, with Stewart winning the most critics’ prizes thus far. A few Academy members have shared their thoughts on the performance with Variety, ranging from an utter enjoyment to being left cold. Nevertheless, her chances are still somewhat alive in terms of a nomination, especially with a mention on the BAFTA longlist. However, and worth noting for those still hoping a win could be in her future, no leading performance has won the Oscar without a SAG nomination in the 27 previous years of its existence.

Continuing the trend of the newly-changed actress race, MGM/United Artists Releasing’s “House of Gucci” co-led the field with three nods, including Lady Gaga. A previous nominee for “A Star is Born” (2018), Gaga is back in a strong position after feeling flimsy the last few weeks. If Stewart is in fact vulnerable, as she was initially thought to be Gaga’s biggest competition, does this clear the way for the pop star to win her first acting Oscar? Not if Nicole Kidman has anything to say about it.

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“Being the Ricardos” Amazon

Today, Amazon Studios’ “Being the Ricardos” had life breathed into its awards prospects. Aside from a robust showing on the BAFTA longlist, its stars Javier Bardem and Kidman secured spots in the lead categories. In the case of the former, this marks his third individual nomination after winning for “No Country for Old Men” (2007) and surprising for “Skyfall” (2012), displaying his popularity among the actors. With Kidman, who also won the Golden Globe, she may have asserted herself as the new frontrunner for best actress, especially after the Stewart omission. An astonishing statistic is that Kidman has never won a SAG award, despite winning the Oscar for “The Hours” (2002). Oftentimes, SAG voters become aware of such misses and make up for it, ultimately turning the race over to someone else’s favor (i.e., Sean Penn in “Milk”).

The best actress field is populated with all former nominees and winners for the second time in SAG history (after 2013). Alongside Gaga and Kidman are Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”), Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”) and Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”). The mention for Hudson was crucial for her campaign, especially after missing Critics Choice and Globe nods. This could help her move into the Academy’s good graces.

The best actor field included Will Smith, who moves one step closer to a possible Oscar win for Warner Bros’ “King Richard.” His co-star Aunjanue Ellis was left outside in the supporting actress category but is among the cast members for the ensemble. The SAG voting body tends to be enamored by the more “famous” names in its ranks, and while Ellis is a two-time Emmy nominee, they found themselves more familiar with the likes of Dunst and Ruth Negga (“Passing”). Saniyya Sidney, who plays the young Venus Williams, is among the youngest actors ever to have two ensemble noms. She was previously recognized for “Fences” (2016).

Ellis’ snub wasn’t the only jaw-dropper of the morning in supporting actress, as Cate Blanchett’s inclusion for “Nightmare Alley” was an unexpected shocker, given the film’s lackluster showing thus far. Utterly worthy of the nod, the two-time SAG winner (“The Aviator” and “Blue Jasmine”) could parlay this recognition, along with her ensemble mention for “Don’t Look Up,” into another Oscar nod. In addition, with the SAG nod for ensemble, she’s set a new record for the most cast nominations in SAG history with seven, surpassing Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt. Her only cast win to date was for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003).

With the “Belfast” boys out, the supporting actor race may have turned into Troy Kotsur from “CODA” versus Smit-McPhee. It’ll be interesting to see if “CODA” can pull it off the win in SAG’s top category which has seen winners such as “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) and “Parasite” (2019). The possibility for a feel-good campaign within the actors’ branch is on the table.

Despite having a big cast that includes Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac and Rebecca Ferguson, Warner Bros’ “Dune” wasn’t able to make the same leap that other science fiction and action movies like “Avatar” (2009), “Gravity” (2013) and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) were able to get over. A mention for stunt ensemble, alongside “Black Widow,” “The Matrix: Resurrections,” “No Time to Die” and “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is good enough (for now). It’s unclear if “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was screened for the SAG NomCom, which would explain its absence.

Films that were shut out included the Japanese favorite “Drive My Car” from Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, which people began to believe had a decent chance after winning best film at New York, Los Angeles and the National Society of Film Critics. Others not recognized included “Parallel Mothers” from Sony Pictures Classics, “The Harder They Fall” from Netflix and “The French Dispatch” from Searchlight Pictures.

A24’s “Red Rocket” from Sean Baker, which stars Simon Rex, was not eligible for this year’s awards. Some past films like Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” also weren’t eligible, yet still mustered an impressive four Oscar nods, including best picture, director and actress for Quvenzhané Wallis. Wouldn’t that be incredible if the film was able to muster a late phase one surge?

On the television side, Netflix’s “Squid Game” made history as the first foreign language TV nominee, along with its stars Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon landing spots in lead actor and lead actress drama, respectively. Sandra Oh’s mention for “The Chair” was a strong showing for AAPI representation, as was Oscar Isaac representing Latinos with his performance in “Scenes from a Marriage.”

HBO’s “Succession” finally got on the SAG board with its first nominations for Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong and Sarah Snook.

Jean Smart was the only actor of the day to pull in two individual nominations for her work in “Hacks” and “Mare of Easttown.” HBO is spiking the ball with the most nominations for any network. Still, it’s only a technicality, as they continue to convince award shows to combine their tallies even though HBO and HBO Max are separate outlets.

Talking about snubs, Julianne Nicholson’s omission for “Mare of Easttown” was disappointing. At the same time, “The Underground Railroad’s” stars Joel Edgerton and Thuso Mbedu ended their run without nominations, among the greatest omissions of the year.

Finally, the SAG NomCom decided to choose violence by not checking Issa Rae’s name for her final outing in “Insecure.”

The complete list of nominees is down below.

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“CODA” Courtesy of Sundance Institute

SAG Awards Predictions (Film)

Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble

  • “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  • “CODA” (Apple Original Films)
  • “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)
  • “House of Gucci” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
  • “King Richard” (Warner Bros)

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

  • Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  • Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” (Netflix)
  • Will Smith, “King Richard” (Warner Bros)
  • Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (Apple Original Films)

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

  • Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Searchlight Pictures)
  • Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)
  • Lady Gaga, “House of Gucci” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
  • Jennifer Hudson, “Respect” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
  • Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Ben Affleck, “The Tender Bar” (Amazon Studios)
  • Bradley Cooper, “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
  • Troy Kotsur, “CODA” (Apple Original Films)
  • Jared Leto, “House of Gucci” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Caitríona Balfe, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  • Cate Blanchett, “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
  • Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios
  • Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  • Ruth Negga, “Passing” (Netflix)

Best Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

  • “Black Widow” (Marvel Studios)
  • “Dune” (Warner Bros)
  • “The Matrix: Resurrections” (Warner Bros)
  • “No Time to Die” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
  • “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (Marvel Studios)
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“Squid Game” Noh Juhan/Netflix

SAG Awards (Television)

Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble in a Drama Series

  • “The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus)
  • “Pose” (FX)
  • “Succession” (HBO)
  • “Squid Game” (Netflix)
  • “Yellowstone” (Paramount Network)

Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble in a Comedy Series

  • “The Great” (Hulu)
  • “Hacks” (HBO Max)
  • “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
  • “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)
  • “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

  • Brian Cox, “Succession” (HBO)
  • Billy Crudup, “The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus)
  • Kieran Culkin, “Succession” (HBO)
  • Lee Jung-jae, “Squid Game” (Netflix)
  • Jeremy Strong, “Succession” (HBO)

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Michael Douglas. “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
  • Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)
  • Steve Martin, “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)
  • Martin Short, “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)
  • Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Mini-Series

  • Murray Bartlett, “The White Lotus” (HBO)
  • Oscar Isaac, “Scenes from a Marriage” (HBO)
  • Michael Keaton, “Dopesick” (Hulu)
  • Ewan McGregor, “Halston” (Netflix)
  • Evan Peters, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

  • Jennifer Aniston, “The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus)
  • Jung Ho-yeon, “Squid Game” (Netflix)
  • Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
  • Sarah Snook, “Succession” (HBO)
  • Reese Witherspoon, “The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus)

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Elle Fanning, “The Great” (Hulu)
  • Sandra Oh, “The Chair” (Netflix)
  • Jean Smart, “Hacks” (HBO Max)
  • Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)
  • Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Mini-Series

  • Jennifer Coolidge, “The White Lotus” (HBO)
  • Cynthia Erivo, “Genius: Aretha” (National Geographic)
  • Margaret Qualley, “Maid” (Netflix)
  • Jean Smart, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
  • Kate Winslet, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)

Best Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series

  • “Cobra Kai” (Netflix)
  • “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (Disney Plus)
  • “Loki” (Disney Plus)
  • “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
  • “Squid Game” (Netflix)