As we roll into another prestigious awards season (which officially commences in 2017), a handful of the prominent awards shows have either occurred or have announced their nominees. Falling in the latter category, the Screen Actors Guild announced their 2017 nominees, and it immediately became clear that SAG was not interested in comfortably lining up with other awards show nominees, like those nominated for the 2017 Golden Globes.
The non-uniformity in nominations between awards shows, both of which often act as predictors for the list of Oscar nominees, not only implies that it is literally anyone's game when the time to announce the 2017 Oscar nominations, but also that the SAG Awards is focused on recognizing those projects and performances that deserve praise but got brushed aside by the Golden Globes.
Two prime examples of this would be Millie Bobby Brown's performance in Netflix's Stranger Things and Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic. Both were overlooked by the Golden Globes. Brown's work was considered a standout by critics and fans alike; Brown's star power has only increased as a result, making her a breakout in 2016. Viggo Mortensen and his film, Captain Fantastic, were heavily nominated by the SAG Awards in comparison to the Globes' disregard.
While there were common threads, as likely there will be throughout awards season, of films and performances getting awards glory — La La Land, Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea are the unofficial Holy Trinity of the 2017 awards season — there are big differences too. The SAG Awards has a smaller number of categories in film and television, and they definitely took advantage of each category to highlight those performances and projects that have otherwise remained on the periphery of awards season conversation (while still nominating the high-profile contenders). To that end, the SAG Awards actively, albeit unconsciously, distanced themselves from the Golden Globes, and it's most noticeable in the following categories.
Perhaps the biggest surprises are the nominations for the casts of Captain Fantastic and Hidden Figures, which replaced likelier nominees like Jackie, Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge and Rules Don't Apply. Like the latter films, the cast of Captain Fantastic is a standout; notable here is that Captain Fantastic's cast slants heavily toward acting newcomers, including George MacKay and Shree Crooks, mixed with its seasoned veterans: Frank Langella, Viggo Mortensen, Kathryn Hahn and Steve Zahn. Hidden Figures has yet to be released, but it's not difficult to see why they would be nominated: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Mahershala Ali, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Janelle Monáe comprise the core cast.
Both categories for female actors featured a refreshing mix in terms of age and diversity. Emily Blunt is the biggest surprise here for a lead performance if only because The Girl on the Train had a rather lukewarm reception in theaters. The supporting category is, happily, a very diverse one. Women of color are dominating here: Spencer, Viola Davis, and Naomie Harris clinched three of the five slots. It should be noted and praised that the films these women were a part of focused on profound moments in black history and experiences — a very progressive snapshot of the 2016 Hollywood landscape.
There are some unsurprising nominations between these two categories: Ali, Casey Affleck and Ryan Gosling have (rightfully) been nominated. But SAG chose to reward newcomer Lucas Hedges along with Dev Patel for their powerful performances. Interestingly, both male categories feature performances from intense dramas, eschewing comedic turns. Where's the love for comedy, SAG?
The darlings of the 2017 Golden Globes nominations were, by far, American Crime Story, The Night Manager, and The People v. O.J. Simpson. The Globes also focused on major network dramas and cable programming, whereas the SAG Awards gave equal attention to those breakout shows on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon, proving that the audience fervor was justified. Additionally, and somewhat annoyingly, the Golden Globes nominated a bevy of white actors for their television work. However justified the Globes was on that final note, SAG disagreed and the nominations proved it.
The SAG Awards went deep into the catalogue of 2016 performances and shows, culling a truly impressive list of diverse nominations. Grace and Frankie, Black-ish, Mr. Robot and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt all got nods thanks to the performances of Lily Tomlin, Anthony Anderson, Rami Malek and Ellie Kemper, respectively. While we're at it, score one for diversity too, because along with the aforementioned nominees, SAG recognized the work of Audra McDonald, Sterling K. Brown, Tituss Burgess and Uzo Aduba on the small screen in 2016.
So what's the ultimate resolution when looking over the SAG Award nominees? Well, there are actually two big takeaways. The first is that SAG rewarded strong performances across networks, genres, gender and color lines. Additionally, in the film categories, SAG may acknowledge there are a few clear-cut front-runners, but it definitely disagrees (sometimes interestingly, sometimes for the better) about who is deserving of a nomination. This is going to be an interesting awards season indeed.
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