By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com December 14, 2011 at 9:36AM
In the seventeen years that they've been running for, the annual Screen Actors' Guild Awards have proven to be a pretty reliable precursor for the acting categories at the Academy Awards. And why shouldn't they? With the actors who nominate their peers for the Oscars overwhelmingly being SAG members, there's always going to be a natural link, and certainly by the time the guild award their prizes, it's a good time to make a bet. In the last few years, they've only missed Penelope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," Marion Cotillard in "La Vie En Rose" and Alan Arkin in "Little Miss Sunshine" as winners, while the nominees tend to match up heavily -- last year, seventeen out of twenty in the acting categories were the same, while all five nominees in the Outstanding Cast category won Oscar nominations.
Whether this pans out this year remains to be seen, but there weren't too many shocks when the nominations were announced early this morning in Los Angeles. The biggest beneficiary seems to be two movies that have been favored Oscar players for the last little while, "The Artist" and "The Help." While the former has been more warmly received by the critics circle groups, the latter seems to be playing well within the industry hence the bump here. "J. Edgar" may not be out for the count either as expected nods for Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer seem to indicate that acting categories could propel the movie to the Kodak Theater. Meanwhile, the love-in for Glenn Close this year seems to be shaping up as she earns a nod for "Albert Nobbs" (as does her co-star Janet McTeer).
Surprises? "Bridesmaids" not only got a nomination for Melissa McCarthy, the picture vaulted into Oustanding Cast which is truly a surprise. We're thrilled to see Demian Bichir honored for his moving turn in "A Better Life" a film we figured everyone forgot about, and it looks like Nick Nolte may not be down for the count as he turns up with a supporting actor nod. We're a bit shocked to see Michael Fassbender snubbed for "Shame" -- perhaps the NC-17 rating and subject matter are proving too difficult for some of the more conversative folks in SAG. But the biggest shock of all: "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy" was shut out completely, including an expected nomination for Gary Oldman.
The awards will be given out on Sunday January 29th, nominees below.
"Midnight In Paris"
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Leading Role
George Clooney - "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin - "The Artist"
Demian Bichir - "A Better Life"
Brad Pitt - "Moneyball"
Leonardo DiCaprio - "J. Edgar"
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Leading Role
Glenn Close - "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis - "The Help"
Meryl Streep - "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams - "My Week With Marilyn"
Tilda Swinton - "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Supporting Role
Christopher Plummer - "Beginners"
Kenneth Branagh - "My Week With Marilyn"
Armie Hammer - "J. Edgar"
Jonah Hill - "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte - "Warrior"
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Supporting Role
Jessica Chastain - "The Help"
Octavia Spencer - "The Help"
Berenice Bejo - "The Artist"
Melissa McCarthy - "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer - "Albert Nobbs"