The just-announced 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations contain at least two what-the-hells. Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel, a novice, is up for Best Supporting Actor while Revolutionary Road ‘s Michael Shannon has been ignored. (What is the blockage that people have about Shannon and this film? It’s unconscionable to blow off a performance this lightning-bolt vivid.) And Changeling‘s Angelina Jolie has been nominated for Best Actress for a strong if less-than-breathtaking performance, while the stunning achievement of I’ve Loved You So Long ‘s Kristin Scott Thomas has been given the go-by.
Two factors were behind the KST snub: xenophobia (i.e., “we gave the Best Actress Oscar to a French-speaking actress last year…that was enough”) and the super-celebrity, magazine-cover butt-kiss impulse benefitting Jolie. This is a very sad day for me personally as SAG, repping a very influential voting bloc, has now all but killed the likelihood of Oscar noms for Thomas and Shannon. Am I wrong?
HE approves of four of the Best Actor nominations — Richard Jenkins in The Visitor (justice! attempts by the Gurus of Gold to marginalize Jenkins have been waved off!), Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon, Sean Penn in Milk and Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler . But it’s wrong and slavish to nominate Benjamin Button‘s Brad Pitt — who gives a fine if unstirring performance as a passive sponge man — at the expense of the far more deserving Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road or Benicio del Toro in Che. The Pitt nomination is largely driven by the celebrity butt-kiss impulse along with a Benjamin Button coat-tails effect.
In addition to Jolie, SAG’s Best Female Actor noms have gone to Rachel Getting Married ‘s Anne Hathaway (right), Frozen River‘s Melissa Leo (applause!), Doubt‘s Meryl Streep (yes), and Revolutionary Road‘s Kate Winslet (very much deserved). I for one am not distressed about Happy-Go-Lucky‘s Sally Hawkins getting bypassed. I’m presuming this happened because some of the SAG membership feels as I do about her performance — i.e., technically expert and emotonally alive, but in service of a horribly irritating character.
Patel aside, SAG’s Best Supporting Actor nominees are Milk‘s Josh Brolin, Tropic Thunder‘s Robert Downey, Jr., Doubt‘s Philip Seymour Hoffman, and The Dark Knight ‘s Heath Ledger.
I have two disputes with SAG’s choice of Best Supporting Female nominees — i.e., Doubt‘s Viola Davis and Amy Adams , Vicky Cristina Barcelona‘s Penelope Cruz, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button‘s Taraji P. Henson, and The Reader ‘s Kate Winslet.
The arguments are (1) there’s no way in hell Adams’ Doubt performance, good as it is, is a match for The Wrestler‘s Marisa Tomei , I’ve Loved You So Long‘s Elsa Zylberstein, Rachel Getting Married‘s Rosemarie DeWitt, The Vistor‘s Hiam Abbass or Nothing But The Truth‘s Vera Farmiga; and (2) Winslet’s ex-Nazi-guard character is utterly central to the story of The Reader, and she’s unquestionably the lead female actress in the film so calling her a supporting player is pretty close to ridiculous.