The SAG Awards are usually good for a few shockers, but there’s rarely one as big as this year’s omission of Kristen Stewart for her heralded performance in “Spencer.” That puzzling absence tops the list of head scratchers, but there were some fun surprises on the film side as well, including the first major nod for Bradley Cooper’s turn in “Licorice Pizza” and a strong showing for “House of Gucci” and “The Power of the Dog.”
Meanwhile, it was just two years ago that the SAG Awards made history by awarding the Korean-language drama “Parasite” as best cast in a motion picture. Now, with a drama ensemble nomination for Netflix’s South Korean series “Squid Game,” the kudocast is poised to do the same on the TV side.
Not only was “Squid Game” nominated in the ensemble drama field, but stars Jung Ho-Yeon and Lee Jung-Jae were nominated in the female drama actor and male drama actor categories, respectively.
The 28th SAG Awards nominations were revealed on Wednesday morning on Instagram Live by Rosario Dawson and Vanessa Hudgens. After a slightly rough start (Dawson’s mic wasn’t working at first), the duo announced a grouping of actors and ensembles from some of the biggest film and TV shows of the year.
In film, “The Power of the Dog” and “House of Gucci” led with three noms each, followed by two for “Being the Ricardos,” “Belfast,” “Coda” and “King Richard.” In TV, Emmy darlings “Succession” and “Ted Lasso” were tops with five a piece, followed by “Mare of Easttown,” “The Morning Show” and “Squid Game,” with four. “Only Murders in the Building” received three.
“Succession” made waves by going from completely being snubbed by the SAG Awards in its first two seasons to becoming the first series ever to land three of the five slots in the male actor in a drama series category.
The SAG Awards are still considered a precursor to the Academy Awards in many ways, but there is not as much guaranteed correlation on the television side of the ballot, for the eventual Primetime Emmy Awards in September. And frustratingly, the SAG Awards still doesn’t recognize limited series ensemble casts, even though those feature some of the year’s biggest casts and best performances.
Here, Variety breaks down the biggest snubs and surprises of the 28th Annual SAG Awards.
SNUB: Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”
Not to be hyperbolic, but it’s difficult to remember an omission as shocking as that of Stewart in the history of the SAG Awards. Since “Spencer” premiered at the Venice Film Festival (maybe even before), the actor has been pegged as the frontrunner for her turn as Princess Diana. Not only did her stunning turn silence any doubters, but there was a strong perception that Stewart was overdue for a nomination, having consistently turned in great work for years. Everything seemed to be on track: Stewart was charming on the circuit and racking up nominations and awards on a regular basis. It’s hard to say what happened — maybe enough voters didn’t see the film? Maybe everyone assumed she was safe and wanted to spread the love with their votes? We’ll never know.
SURPRISE: Bradley Cooper, “Licorice Pizza”
While everyone agreed Cooper was a scene-stealing standout in his brief but memorable role as Jon Peters, this nod ranks as a surprise only because it’s the first major nomination the actor has received after being shut out of both the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. Many felt his limited screen time would prevent a nomination, but leave it to fellow actors to recognize that greatness isn’t about quantity.
SNUBS: “West Side Story”
Though Ariana DeBose landed in the female actor in a supporting role lineup, she was the sole nominee from Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed musical — there were no individual noms for co-stars Rachel Zegler, Mike Faist or Rita Moreno, and the film was shut out of the ensemble category. It’s hard to argue that people didn’t see the film considering DeBose’s nod, but the omission in other categories is likely just due to an overabundance of great performances this year.
SURPRISE: Jennifer Hudson, “Respect” and Cynthia Erivo, “Genius: Aretha”
Voters are often accused of having short memories, and with “Respect” coming out in August, Hudson had the challenge of keeping her searing turn as Aretha Franklin fresh in people’s minds. But she did just that, continuing to work the circuit and attend Q&As to discuss her transformative role. As more and more people saw her film, she became impossible to ignore, landing a spot in a very competitive category. Meanwhile, Erivo was nominated in the female actor in a TV movie or limited series category for “Genius: Aretha,” which earned three Emmy awards last year but didn’t win any of those. The unusual circumstance of two actors both being nominated by SAG for playing Aretha Franklin is definitely a unique quirk of this year’s noms.
SNUB: Alana Haim, “Licorice Pizza”
As stated above, there was an embarrassment of riches in the category of female actor in a lead role and there were going to be some talented actors left off. But it’s hard to remember a more impressive debut in recent years than Haim, who made her film debut in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1970s-set dramedy. Veering from immature to sophisticated, hilarious to heartfelt, Haim delivered a performance that actors with a dozen films under their belt would envy. And she held her own against the likes of Sean Penn and Bradley Cooper, no easy task for even the more veteran of performers.
SURPRISE: Cate Blanchett, “Nightmare Alley” and Ruth Negga, “Passing”
Probably no category was more unpredictable than female actor in a supporting role — most likely the most competitive category of the year. And while both Blanchett and Negga were deserving of nominations and have earned raves for their turns, neither was a sure thing. Negga has garnered a lot of support and accolades as people continue to catch her sublime work as a Black woman passing for white in the 1920s, and this just seals her as a major contender. And while Guillermo Del Toro’s noir has been mostly MIA on the circuit, recognition for Blanchett’s chilling turn as a femme fatale reminds us once again that the Aussie actor is capable of anything.
SNUB: Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”
As stated above, the female actor in a supporting role category was probably the most competitive of all, so there were going to be some painful omissions. But the failure to individually recognize Ellis, the tough and loving matriarch of the Williams family, is surprising. Voters clearly took to the film as it made it into the ensemble category, and Ellis has picked up several critics’ awards in addition to landing Golden Globe and Critics Choice noms. It’s an omission that hopefully Oscar voters will correct.
SNUB: The male actors of “Belfast”
Since Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical tale hit the circuit, buzz has been high on the film’s performances. And while Catiorina Balfe scored a nomination in the female actors in a supporting role category, her male co-stars Jamie Dornan and Ciarán Hinds were left out of their category. The entire cast was recognized in the ensemble slot, so it’s possible voters felt that was enough, or maybe the two actors canceled each other out.
SNUB: “The Power of the Dog” in Ensemble
Though Jane Campion’s acclaimed Western scored more individual nominations than any other film with Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee all receiving nods, it was left out of the ensemble category. But no cause for alarm: this often happens with films that have smaller casts (see: “La La Land”), and voters figured individual recognition for the main roles was enough.
SNUB: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Don’t Look Up” and Nicolas Cage, “Pig”
Two previous winners went against type to deliver two of their best performances in heralded careers: DiCaprio toned down his natural charisma to play an anxiety-ridden astronomer in “Don’t Look Up,” while Cage completely transformed to break our hearts as a solitary man whose pet pig is stolen in “Pig.” In the end, it likely just comes down to too many great choices in the male actor in a leading role category, but both are still very much in the Oscar race. At least DiCaprio was recognized in the ensemble category.
SURPRISE: A strong showing for “House of Gucci”
Lady Gaga was considered a safe bet for her turn as Patrizia Reggiani in this true tale, and Jared Leto had also picked up a lot of buzz for his role as a sad sack member of the Gucci family. But voters really loved the entire cast, including it in the ensemble category over films like “Being the Ricardos,” “Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story.” Not a total shocker considering its impressive cast (Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Salma Hayek) and the wide variety of characters on display, but it’s still a major coup for the Gucci family.
SNUB: Michaela Jaé Rodriguez and “Pose”
Earlier this week, “Pose” star Rodriguez broke new ground as the first trans actress ever to win a Golden Globe Award, landing the honor for drama actress. But of course, in a weird year in which the Globes weren’t televised and nominees didn’t attend the stripped-down announcement, Rodriguez didn’t get to experience the usual celebratory moment. Sadly, she also won’t get that opportunity at the SAG Awards, which ignored her stunning performance in the show’s final episodes. “Pose” had never received a SAG Award nomination, so snubs for “Pose” are nothing new: But this year, it felt like at the very least, Rodriguez and Billy Porter might receive noms, even if the show didn’t land in the drama ensemble field. But alas, it didn’t happen.
SNUB: Issa Rae and “Insecure”
Rae has received Emmy, Golden Globes, Critics Choice, TCA and other nominations. She’s won a Peabody. In 2021, “Insecure” finally won the NAACP Image Award for outstanding comedy. And yet, the SAG Awards has completely ignored Rae and “Insecure.” Which is a shame, because this was the HBO series’ final season, and the last chance for SAG to recognize the critically acclaimed, ground breaking, fan-favorite series. That’s messed up AF.
SURPRISE: “Yellowstone” (Paramount Network)
“Yellowstone” has been a strong ratings performer for Paramount Network since premiering in 2018, but it has since become a phenomenon. Created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, the series’ drama cast includes Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, Luke Grimes, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Gil Birmingham, Thomas Rainwater, Jefferson White, Ryan Bingham, Ian Bohen, Forrie J. Smith, Denim Richards, Finn Little and Jennifer Landon. “Yellowstone” just completed its fourth season with a series high 10.3 million viewers and has now spawned multiple spin-offs. But until now, its awards presence has been meager: An Emmy nom for production design for a narrative contemporary program (one hour or more). Now, it’s entered the big leagues.
SNUB: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Brown had been nominated for the male drama actor SAG Award every year since “This Is Us” was first eligible, in 2017. He won the award in 2018, while the cast of “This Is Us” won for drama ensemble in both 2018 and 2019. But 2019 was the last year “This Is Us” was in the drama ensemble race at SAG, and now the show is completely out of the running. This could also serve as a snub for broadcast TV: Last year, Brown received NBC’s — and broadcast TV’s — only nomination. This year, broadcast TV is completely blanked.
SNUB: Selena Gomez, “Only Murders in the Building”
Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” is a true three-hander, with Gomez holding her own opposite comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short. Those two were nominated for male actor in a comedy, yet Gomez did not receive a female actor in a comedy nomination. Voters know “Only Murders” is a true collaborative effort: It’s recognized as such in the comedy ensemble category. And yet, only two of the threesome were recognized with individual noms.
SNUB: Jessica Chastain, “Scenes from a Marriage”
HBO’s English-language remake of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage,” this time from Hagai Levi, is a close-up examination of the unraveling relationship between Jonathan (Oscar Isaac) and Mira (Chastain). It’s really a work of give-and-take between these two characters. One can’t exist without the other. Isaac was nominated for male actor in a TV movie or limited series. Where was Chastain?
SNUB: “Impeachment: American Crime Story” (FX)
The first “American Crime Story,” “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” received SAG Award noms for Sterling K. Brown and Courtney B. Vance, and landed a win for Sarah Paulson. The second, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” scored a nom for Penélope Cruz and a win for Darren Criss. This time, “Impeachment” wasn’t as lucky. Despite a stellar cast, including Beanie Feldstein, Clive Owen and Paulson, it didn’t make the cut.
SNUB: Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”
For most TV awards, it’s been a tale of two Hannahs in the comedy supporting actress race: “Ted Lasso’s” Hannah Waddingham, who won the Emmy last year for supporting actress in a comedy; and “Hacks” star Hannah Einbinder, who was nominated. But the SAG Awards doesn’t do “supporting actor” categories, and there’s only so much room to include everyone. Waddingham made the cut, but Einbinder won’t be facing off with her co-star Jean Smart in the female actor in a comedy series competition (and she’s probably fine with that).