The Screen Actors Guild voting panels -- each composed of 2,100 randomly selected SAG members from across the United States -- tend to nominate the usual suspects, though sometimes throw up a surprise or two with "out of left field" head scratchers. So, as we review the actors included and excluded by the Screen Actors Guild Thursday, remember a nomination doesn't necessarily guarantee you a spot in the coveted top five at the Oscars, nor does a perceived snub doom you to oblivion.
The strong showing for both "Black Swan" and "The Kids Are Alright" is encouraging. Those supporting nods for Mila Kunis and Mark Ruffalo cement their places in the running for the ultimate prize next month (i.e. an Oscar nomination). Jeremy Renner is also a welcome addition, especially given that "The Town" was nowhere else to be seen on the SAG roster. Renner and Kunis (and even John Hawkes for "Winter's Bone") were rarely discussed by the pundits and bloggers as genuine contenders in the months leading up to the awards season, so it is nice to see them break through as strong contenders.
The consensus on the almost complete snub of "Inception" appears to be that it isn't an actor's film. I hoped for nominations (at the very least) for Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard, and boil the almost complete snub of the film down to a general bias against sci-fi and action films, as the film only appears in the blockbuster-friendly Stunt Ensemble category. Two other notable exclusions are Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network") and Mark Wahlberg ("The Fighter"), made all the more stinging by the fact that voters saw the films and loved their costars enough to include them in their respective categories. As Nathaniel Rogers points out, the Ensemble category is deeply flawed when so many worthy actors are left out of their respective cast lists because of quirks in the rules governing that category.
SAG voters, "you've done some bad things, sweetie." I am very disappointed that there wasn't enough support among the voting panel for Jacki Weaver ("Animal Kingdom"). After wins and nominations by various critics groups and the Globe nod earlier this week, Weaver was on a roll, and appeared to have locked herself in as a probable Oscar nominee. Time will tell whether this is just a speed-bump on the way to the Kodak. I am also wondering whether Oscar voters will follow SAG's lead or go their own way (as they are entitled to do when voting) and bump Hailee Steinfeld up to the Lead Actress race (in the same way Keisha Castle-Hughes was at the 2003 Oscars for her lead role in "Whale Rider"). The Lead Actress lineup is extremely competitive, but Steinfeld belongs there. Who is she "supporting"?
Photo: Marion Cotillard and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Inception" (Warner Bros.)