This morning, we were previewed to the nominations of the 15th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, and we once again reminded by this fact: actors seem to have puzzling taste when it comes to their own craft. There were a couple of curve balls thrown (though not as many as the Golden Globes), a few puzzling snubs, and a couple pleasant surprises. Let's jump right in with some analysis:
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:
Richard Jenkins, THE VISITOR
Frank Langella, FROST/NIXON
Sean Penn, MILK
Brad Pitt, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Mickey Rourke, THE WRESTLER
Penn, Rourke, and Langella essentially cement their Oscar nominations with this list. Those three should be rewarded come Oscar nomination morning. I'm surprised that the SAGs went with Pitt (which doesn't seem like much of an actor's movie) and Jenkins (who isn't a star), and skipped over Clint Eastwood for Gran Torino and Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road. No real huge upsets or snubs here, and I predict Sean Penn to take the award home.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Anne Hathaway, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
Angelina Jolie, CHANGELING
Melissa Leo, FROZEN RIVER
Meryl Streep, DOUBT
Kate Winslet, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
Melissa Leo pulls a shocker and wins a big nomination for the great unnoticed indie Frozen River, while the previous critics-awards stand-out Sally Hawkins was skipped over for her wonderful turn in Happy-Go-Lucky. Angelina Jolie, after seemingly falling out of favor in her campaign, has come back strong with Globe and SAG nominations. Meanwhile, Kristen Scott-Thomas's brilliant performance in the French I've Loved You So Long is beginning to flounder. Hathaway, Steep, and Winslet (much like Penn, Rourke, and Langella) pretty much guaranteed their Oscar nominations with the recognition here. Streep should take this award handily.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Josh Brolin, MILK
Robert Downey Jr., TROPIC THUNDER
Philip Seymour Hoffman, DOUBT
Heath Ledger, THE DARK KNIGHT
Dev Patel, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
Josh Brolin's nomination helps a campaign that was nearly torpedoed by the Golden Globes, and Dev Patel gets nominated for a dynamic turn in Slumdog Millionaire (it seems to be a Timothy Hutton/Ordinary People situation with this guy--he's the central character of the movie, but his lack of star power seems to keep him in the supporting character). Downey Jr.'s hilarious performance in Tropic Thunder doesn't go away, and neither does Ledger or Hoffman. Other than Brolin, could you seriously convince yourself any of these performances aren't lead roles? I see Heath Ledger winning this one as a sentimental favorite.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams, DOUBT
Penelope Cruz, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
Viola Davis, DOUBT
Taraji P. Henson, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Kate Winslet, THE READER
I've heard many say that the main source of warmth within the chilly Benjamin Button is the performance by Taraji P. Henson, and she finally is recognized here at the SAGs. Doubt's two supporting ladies, Adams and Davis, both squeaked out nominations, and their double-dip may have been what kept out Marisa Tomei's performance in The Wrestler. Cruz, winning mostly every critics award, gets another nonination, and Winslet gets her second nomination of the day within The Reader. I'm still not sold on Amy Adams getting the Oscar nomination, I see that attention swaying toward Tomei. I see Kate Winslet pulling a semi-shocker and winning this award.
BEST ESEMBLE CAST
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Not really an impressive short list here. This is more of a Best Picture prediction line-up, rather than a list of formidable list of ensembles. Frost/Nixon had two wonderful lead performances, but no one else is truly too impressive, and Slumdog Millionaire's nomination seems to be granted based more on enthusiasm than merit. Milk does have a fabulous ensemble, no problems there, and if you nominate nearly every character in Doubt, it would seem contradictory not to nominate the ensemble as a whole. Benjamin Button doesn't really seem like an actor's film, so this nomination is puzzling, but I'll have to see the film come Christmas to see for myself.
COMING SOON BEFORE NEW YEAR'S:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button