Did TV actors propel ‘Argo’ to shock win at SAG Awards?

In hindsight, “Argo” seems like the obvious choice to have won Best Film Ensemble at the SAG awards. The popular hostage film already took home trophies at the Critics Choice, Golden Globe and PGA awards and seems to be unstoppable heading into the Oscars.

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So why did only three of our Experts (Richard Horgan, Guy Lodge and Christopher Rosen) and three of our Editors (Chris Beachum, Marcus Dixon and Matt Noble) predict “Argo” for the win at SAG over frontrunners “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Lincoln“?

Simply put, almost everyone we polled forgot to take into consideration WHO is actually voting for these kudos. It’s actors. And not just movie actors, but also most importantly television actors.

While two big movie stars are mainly associated with the film — director/actor Ben Affleck and Oscar nominee Alan Arkin — the rest of the ensemble cast is filled to the brim with a slew of television performers. These are TV stars who’ve all had series on their air within the past few years, meaning they’re still working in the industry and have plenty of friends who want to support them.

It’s a strong possibility that “Argo” took home the Film Ensemble award Sunday because of the many, many SAG members who make up the TV voting bloc. Look at it from the mindset of these TV voters: Not only do they get to honor a movie that’s taking home all kinds of trophies this awards season, but they also get to honor themselves. 

Below, all of those TV folk that star in “Argo” alongside Affleck and Alda:

Kyle Chandler (Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan in “Argo”) is well-liked in the industry and just won an Emmy two years ago for playing Coach Taylor in “Friday Night Lights.”

Rory Cochrane (hostage Lee Schatz in “Argo”) may not have received a lot of industry buzz for his work on “CSI: Miami,” but he did make several appearances on the penultimate season of “24.”

Bryan Cranston (CIA supervisor Jack O’Donnell in “Argo”) is best known for his current TV gig as Walter White on “Breaking Bad,” a role that earned him three Emmys and a shiny new SAG as Best TV Drama Actor.

Tate Donovan (hostage Bob Anders in “Argo”) worked side-by-side with Glenn Close on the first three seasons of “Damages” and also starred in the Fox soap “The O.C.”

Clea DuVall (hostage Cora Lijek in “Argo”) just finished several guest spots on “American Horror Story: Asylum,” but her best work might have been in the spooky HBO period drama “Carnivale”.

Victor Garber (Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor in “Argo”) was Jennifer Garner‘s spy daddy Jack Bristow on “Alias,” but since leaving that series he’s made guest appearances on “Web Therapy,” “Damages,” “The Big C” and “30 Rock.”

John Goodman (costume designer John Chambers in “Argo”) recently took a turn as the bad guy in “Damages” in a role that lasted only one season, a far cry from his decade of work as the lovable dad on “Roseanne.”

Bob Gunton (State Department’s Cyrus Vance in “Argo”) is a well-recognized TV actor whose recent credits include “Royal Pains” and “24.”

Zeljko Ivanek (State Department’s Robert Pender in “Argo”) won an Emmy for playing Ray Fiske on “Damages,” but his many other recent TV projects have included “True Blood,” “The Event” and “The Mob Doctor.”

Richard Kind (film producer Max Klein in “Argo”) recently starred alongside Dustin Hoffman in the HBO series “Luck,” but before that he was a series regular on “Spin City.”

Chris Messina (CIA operative Malinov in “Argo”) can currently be seen with Mindy Kaling on the Fox comedy “The Mindy Project” but he, too, was a fixture on “Damages.”

Titus Welliver (State Department’s Bates in “Argo”) played showy, integral roles on “Lost,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Good Wife,” among his many other guest stints.

9 thoughts on “Did TV actors propel ‘Argo’ to shock win at SAG Awards?

  1. This aspect of the awards season truly bothers me. While I understand the desire to support ones friends and future income, it would be nice if the politics could be set aside at least enough to allow for honest evaluation of what constitutes a “Best Fim” if only because that will mean better films far into the future. This year, Lincoln and Les Mis the two films most likely to be watched decades from now are getting run over by the Weinstein machine and actors hunting for employment.

  2. This is as absurd a thesis as saying ‘Lincoln’ got a lot of Best Picture nominations because a lot of members of the Academy are old and remember Lincoln personally. Actors reward good acting; ‘Argo’ had more of it — whether by ‘television’ actors or not — than ‘Lincoln’ or “SLP.’ That’s why it won.

  3. I think that’s just a bit insulting to say Argo won merely because their TV actor friends wanted to vote for them out of friendship and not on their performances. The other movies nominated for best ensemble also contained actors who worked in TV. For SLP, Bradley Cooper used to only be known for being a TV actor up until a few years ago on shows like Alias, Kitchen Confidential, and Nip/Tuck. Jennifer Lawrence was on The Bill Engvall Show and also did a few episodes of Medium. Julia Styles was recently on Dexter. And Lincoln had several actors who have mostly done television in the last few years. Sally Field was on Brothers and Sisters. Walton Goggins is on Justified. Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred on Third Rock from the Sun. James Spader did a run on The Office. John Hawkes was on Deadwood. Jared Harris was on Mad Men until just last year. Gloria Reuben is mostly famous for being on E/R. The Lincoln cast list could go on and on for which have them on been on TV. For Les Mis, Amanda Seyfried was part of the Big Love cast and did many soap operas as a child and teen. It’s unfair to say Argo won best cast merely because of their friends who work in television. Maybe possibly they won because the members of SAG felt they gave the best performance?

  4. I don’t think the writer is saying that Argo won “merely because of their friends who work in television”. But it could have been a factor.

  5. I think people forget what a large acting ensemble Argo has. That’s what the award is all about. What put it ultimately ahead is probably the Oscar director snub. Best thing that happened to the film.

  6. I would’ve liked to see “Silver Linings…” take this one, but Argo was a pleasent surprise. I agree that Affleck’s snub seems to be propelling the film to much more love; don’t know if that’s actually the case, but it sure seems that way. I prefer “Argo” to win over “Les Mis”, which is IMHO, a terrible adaptation of the great musical, brought to a higher level by the great performances of it’s cast, and also over “Silver Linings…”, which I loved but I really dislike the Weinsteins. To me, “Argo” and “Lincoln” are the best films of the year.

  7. Let’s not forget the SAG-AFTRA merger brought even more TV & radio people into the voting membership this year. And unlike the Academy, SAG voters are NOT likely to be turned off by the Best Director snub (which is why Argo CANNOT win Best Picture).

  8. I voted for “Argo” because I thought it was the most compelling film of the nominees. But in addition to lots more TV actors in our new union, we have a lot more news people such as myself and you can see where “Argo” might have an appeal based as it is on a recent past story covered by journalists.

  9. It wasn’t that shocking. I had Argo as my alternate. I think people just liked the movie. As soon as I saw as many actors mention it in same breath as SLP, I knew it was gonna be trouble.

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