Ray Richmond: An exasperating chat with my wife about her SAG Awards ballot

(The following conversation does not reveal my wife’s final SAG Awards picks, only what she was considering. Her ultimate ballot remains confidential.)

My wife Jill is a voting member of the Screen Actors Guild, giving me – an editor at Gold Derby – a unique perspective on the process of choosing winners for this Sunday’s SAG Awards. And by “unique,” of course I mean “surreal.” Witness our Thursday night discussion of what she was leaning toward in filling out her ballot.

“OK, let’s talk about what movie you’re going with for film ensemble,” I begin.

“Oh, I’m leaning toward ‘Women Talking’,” she replies.

“Huh?” I ask, not completely comprehending. “But that’s in fourth place on our website. Wouldn’t you rather go with what’s going to be the winner?”

“What’s the winner going  to be?” she inquires.

“Well, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ is the overwhelming pick of our voters,” I inform.

“Oh. I mean, I loved that ensemble, but I’m thinking ‘Women Talking.’ We’ll see.”

“OK,” I reply, slightly frustrated but mostly respecting that it’s her ballot and not mine. “Let’s move on to film actress. Michelle Yeoh has moved in front of Cate Blanchett in our combined odds.”

“What’s this, lead actress? Oh, I’m thinking of Danielle Deadwyler from ‘Till’,” Jill says.

“Really?” I ask. “But she’s in fourth place at 9/2. There isn’t much chance she’s going to take it. A major longshot.”

“Did you see how great Danielle was in that film? Oh my God. Anyway, thanks for your input.”

“But she wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar.”

“Well, maybe she should have been.”

I was starting to sense a pattern.

“Let’s move on to lead actor,” I say. “I suppose you’re going with Adam Sandler for ‘Hustle’?”

“Uh, no,” she assures, “I think this one could be Brendan Fraser.”

“Great choice!” I tell her, breathing a sigh of relief. “He’s still number one ahead of Austin Butler in our combined odds. You’re going with the likely winner there.”

“I’m not sure you get it,” Jill informs me. “This is my ballot. I’m not going with someone or something just because it’ll help confirm your site’s predictions. And besides, I’m not revealing my final choice to you.”

“And I’m not asking you to,” I say, “but just to consider whether your vote is going to count or not in the grand scheme.”

“Of course it will count; it’s my vote,” Jill clarifies. “What good does it do for me to go with the pack?”

“All right then,” I conclude, “let’s move on to film supporting actress. Angela Bassett is the overwhelming choice of the experts and Gold Derby voters, for ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’.”

“Hmmm. Interesting. I think I might like Jamie Lee Curtis.”

“But…but…she’s in third place. Practically no one is picking her to win.”

“Well,” she replies, “I’m looking at her, anyway.”

“You know, you would profoundly disappoint our senior editor Marcus James Dixon on this,” I assure Jill. “He’s been touting Angela from the start. You’re going to break the man’s heart.”

“Sorry,” she says insincerely, “but I really don’t think my single vote would severely impact Marcus’s life. Or Angela’s.”

I was about to give up and let the SAG chips fall where they may. But heck, the next category was a slam dunk, maybe the only sure thing lock on the ballot: film supporting actor. How could Jill possibly disagree?

“All right, honey,” I begin, “in male film supporting, Ke Huy Quan for ‘Everything Everywhere’ has this one completely in the bag.”

“Oh,” she replies. “For that, I’m thinking about Barry Keoghan, the guy who won the BAFTA. Remember how amazing his performance was in ‘Banshees of Inisherin’? Ke Huy was really good, but I’m leaning Barry.”

“But you know that everyone is picking Ke Huy Quan, right?” I half tell/half ask.

“Whatever,” she replies.

It was time to wave a white flag. Nothing I could do or say was going to impact my wife’s potential ballot. The frustrations of being married to a woman driven by independence and integrity never cease.

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