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Kicking award season into gear, the Screen Actors Guild unveiled their nominations for their award ceremony this morning, spurring lots of talk about what the Oscar line-up might look like, as the two tend to have lots of crossover. Looking over the list, I was a bit disappointed at how predictable it was overall. I mean, some of these films we figured as contenders as soon as they were cast.
The strongest example of this is in the category for Outstanding Ensemble, which nominated 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, August: Osage County, Dallas Buyers Club and Lee Daniels' The Butler. All five are positively stacked with already acclaimed stars. Then a couple feed into the major physical transformation trend that so often earns awards.
Dallas Buyers Club had Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto shed a ghastly amount of weight to play AIDS patients, while American Hustle had Christian Bale switch-up his Batman burliness for a comb-over and an impressive potbelly. Now I am by no means saying these casts aren't incredible. They are. But it seems the deck was already stacked in their favor with big names alone. I mean really, how was a movie with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts not going to get a nomination? Personally, I was pulling for the indie wonder The Spectacular Now's cast, but apparently historical drama is too damn enthralling this year.
There are few surprises in the other major film categories. This is partially because of SAG's love of their stars, and partially because some performances this year are just clear standouts. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Tom Hanks Captain Phillips), Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave), and Bruce Dern and June Squibb (Nebraska) seemed dead locks on nominations as each and every one drew wild praise upon their film's release. Meryl is practically engraved on every nominee ballot at this point, because she is Meryl fucking Streep! And the late James Gandolfini seemed guaranteed a spot in honor of his career's work if nothing else. Thankfully, he got this nom for a role he absolutely deserves it for, as he is entirely wonderful, vulnerable and heartbreaking in Enough Said.
But despite all the predictable picks, there are some surprises. Jennifer Lawrence is the only star from American Hustle to get a solo nomination, and many are already calling Amy Adams' exclusion here a snub. Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips is a welcomed surprise as he did as much of that drama's heavy lifting as Hanks' did. And it's downright shocking that Julia Roberts' role in August: Osage County is being dubbed "supporting" instead of "leading." But that's award season strategy for you.
The other surprises are more flat out snubs. Despite early buzz, Martin Scorsese's upcoming The Wolf of Wall Street got nothing, leaving Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill out in the cold. Will Forte, despite much praise for his dramatic turn in Nebraska, got nothing. But the most resounding snub is Robert Redford for All Is Lost, especially considering Sandra Bullock got a nomination for a pretty similar role. In case you're one of the many people who hasn't seen J.C. Chandor's shipwreck drama, allow me to explain that it relies almost completely on Robert's nearly wordless performance for its entire 106 minute runningtime. While I personally thought it was a failed experiment, I'll admit I thought Redford's efforts here locked him in for a SAG nom at the least. But it's possible that the outcry over this snub could help Redford get more notice come Oscar nomination time.