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Screen Actors Guild Surprises: Close, Bichir, and McCarthy Are In, Theron, Redgrave, Woodley and Fassbender, Out

by Anne Thompson
December 14, 2011 11:21 AM
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Glenn Close and Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs
Glenn Close and Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs

"Albert Nobbs" star Glenn Close can heave a sigh of relief, as she landed a Screen Actors Guild nomination as Best Actress, along with frontrunners Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") and Viola Davis, whose film "The Help" gets a surge in the Oscar race as it dominated the field with four nominations, including best ensemble and two supporting nods for Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain.

Actors are by far the largest branch of the Academy, and can make an enormous difference. Now we know where their support lies, although Oscar voters can be less mainstream and more high-minded. In the past, SAG winners often match the Oscar winners: last year both groups chose Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, and nominations matched up closely, 17 out of 20. That doesn't look as likely this year, as many races are still in flux.

The SAG ensemble nominations, their equivalent to the Oscar best picture category, went to "The Artist," "Bridesmaids," "The Descendants," "The Help" and "Midnight in Paris." While we know that "Bridesmaids," "The Artist" and "Midnight in Paris" will also do well with Golden Globes comedy nominations, that does not always translate to Oscar.

Also showing strength is "J. Edgar": the actors came through for both Best Actor candidate Leonardo DiCaprio and supporting actor Armie Hammer. But "The Ides of March," "War Horse," "Hugo," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Tree of Life," "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," "Drive," "Young Adult," "Margin Call," and "Coriolanus" were shut out. Vanessa Redgrave may not be a supporting actress candidate after all, and "The Descendants"' young Shailene Woodley was a surprise omission.

Some Oscar prognosticators were giving Charlize Theron better Oscar odds for "Young Adult" than Close, but Theron was left off the Best Actress list, along with Kirsten Dunst ("Melancholia"), 
Elizabeth Olsen ("Martha Marcy May Marlene"), Felicity Jones ("Like Crazy") and Rooney Mara ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo")

The biggest surprise of the day was the inclusion of Best Actor nominee Damien Bichir for his role as a Mexican gardener in "A Better Life;" the actor is better known in Mexico, but has been campaigning here, and "A Better Life" was among the first screeners sent to the SAG nomination committee. Left out of the Best Actor category is critics' darling Michael Fassbender, who has spread the wealth over four films this year, including NC-17-rated "Shame." Another no-show is Gary Oldman ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"), who also failed to win a Critics Choice nomination from the BFCA. While Fassbender is still going to get plenty of attention, dark horse indie contenders who are going to have a tough time gaining Oscar traction now unless the Golden Globes come through Thursday are Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("50/50"), Woody Harrelson ("Rampart") and Michael Shannon ("Take Shelter"). 

Veteran Nick Nolte ("Warrior") and Jonah Hill ("Moneyball") each scored a supporting actor nod, along with expected frontrunners Christopher Plummer ("Beginners") and Kenneth Branagh ("My Week with Marilyn"); his co-star Michelle Williams landed a Best Actress nomination. Left out were Kevin Spacey ('Margin Call"), Albert Brooks "Drive,"
Patton Oswalt ("Young Adult"), 
Brad Pitt ("The Tree of Life") and 
Max Von Sydow "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close."

The SAG awards ceremony will be simulcast live on Sunday, January 29, 2012 on TNT and TBS at 8 pm (ET)/5 pm (PT)

Full list of nominees below.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

The Artist
The Descendants
The Help
Midnight in Paris

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo diCaprio, J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Armie Hammer, J.Edgar
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

The Adjustment Bureau
Cowboys and Aliens
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Transfromers: Dark of the Moon
X-Men: First Class


  • Dorby | December 14, 2011 6:51 PMReply

    Anne, do you really think Close can score an Oscar nod? I'm mortified that Theron was snubbed. Albert Nobbs has been getting pretty bad reviews and Close's performance has not been getting stellar reviews like Theron's fantastic performance in Young Adult. Theron and Swinton are the only two that give superb performances in strong films. Close doesn't even give a great performance and the "overdue" factor is such BS! Do you think the tide can shift in favor of Theron? Kind of like Williams' last year? Snubbed by SAG, embraced by GG & BFCA, and ultimately earned an Oscar nom? Blue Valentine was a hard film to like b/c it was so heartbreaking and real and Young Adult has similar challenges. I could see Theron following the same pattern. Do you?

  • ProfDave | December 16, 2011 1:09 PM

    Dorby, you weren't a fan of Michelle Williams or My Week with Marilyn? I enjoyed the film and her performance. But yes, I definitely agree that Theron's role in Young Adult is very deserving of a Best Actress nomination (although I haven't seen Albert Nobbs)

  • Richard Tarle | December 14, 2011 1:54 PMReply

    J. Edgar's noms are ridiculous. I mean, Leo's performance on ABC's "Growing Pains" is more three-dimensional. Armie Hammer -- eh. And except for Kenneth Branagh, a big bias this year against British performers read Fassbender, Mulligan. Jonah Hill is awful and Bichir's nom is just too P.C. They should let all of the SAG members nominate rather than a handful.

  • ProfDave | December 16, 2011 1:06 PM

    Richard, you're absolutely correct. Although as a whole I didn't love Shame, Fassbender and Mulligan give it authenticity. Hill, Leo, and Melissa McCarthy over Albert Brooks, Fassbender (or even Michael Shannon), and Mulligan? Unlike the handful of SAG voters, the Globes did a much better job.

  • cinephile | December 14, 2011 12:25 PMReply

    Good for Glenn Close. A double nomination.

    Isn't it nice to see a film leading actress category with four out of five women over 40?
    Close, Streep, Swinton and Davis. Three of them are over fifty, and two of them are over 60! While that's common in the male categories, it's a rarity for female acting categories.

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