Making Sense of the SAG Nominations: “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” and “Three Billboards” Soar

This morning the Screen Actors Guild named their annual nominees for excellence in acting. Much like with the Golden Globes, we saw a lot of the usual suspects, such as Sally Hawkins from The Shape of Water, Timothée Chalamet from Call Me By Your Name and Mary J. Blige from Mudbound pop up, with a few surprises like Steve Carrell from Battle of the Sexes in the Supporting Actor category and a complete shut out of Steven Spielberg’s late release heavy hitter The Post; not even Meryl Streep managed a nomination in Best Actress.

Three films emerged this morning as the strongest: Lady BirdGet Out and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. All three nabbed a nomination in Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture (SAG’s equivalent to Best Picture) with individual nominations for its principal actors. As the largest voting block in the Academy, SAG definitely just shifted the race. 

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Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
  • James Franco, The Disaster Artist 
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
  • Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

This is a big get for Washington, who was considered down and out a few weeks ago given the film’s middling reception. Franco and Kaluuya, who once seemed like they were on the outside looking in, seem just about locked in. I give the edge to Oldman here, despite Chalamet’s recent performance with early prizes. Had Call Me By Your Name done better in the other categories he would have had a better shot, but I think this is where Oldman begins his march towards the Oscar.

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Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul
  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Easy call: it’s gotta be either Ronan and McDormand; Three Billboards clearly resonated with the actors, and given her status it seems a little foolish to bet against her despite the fact that she hasn’t won anything all season. But I’m still not ready to give up on Ronan, who is well on her way to her third Oscar nomination (and second in Best Actress) despite being 23 years old. And clearly they loved Lady Bird as well; this will be a photo finish. The only question now is who will get that fifth slot. It’s strange that Streep blanked here. Will Judi Dench repeat with the Academy, or if Jessica Chastain can pull through with Molly’s Game‘s late release? (It’s probably gonna just be Streep).

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Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Steve Carrell, Battle of the Sexes
  • Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  • Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
  • Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Big get for both Harrelson and Carrel and a big loss for both Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg. The consensus has been Willem Dafoe given he has won everything, but I’m wondering if Rockwell could surprise here given the strength of Three Billboards. 

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Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  • Hong Chau, Downsizing
  • Holly Hunter, The Big Sick 
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya

This category firmed up quick! Chau feels like a sure thing after nabbing this and a Globe nomination, while Hunter was able to bounce back after blanking at the Golden Globes. Shame that Tiffany Haddish couldn’t break through here, though I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crossing my fingers and praying for her to surprise at the Oscars. 

Though Janney could easily win here, I’m going with Metcalf who has worked for many years and has a lot of respect among the actors. 

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Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture:

  • The Big Sick
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird 
  • Mudbound
  • Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Conventional wisdom would point to Three Billboards winning here given the amount of nominations it scooped up. And while Get Out and Lady Bird also feel like strong possibilities, I’m predicting Mudbound to win here; it’s been winning ensemble prizes all year long, and SAG does reward an actual ensemble sometimes, and not just the Best Picture frontrunner (like when The Help won in its year). It’s so strange that The Post didn’t get any love here despite feeling tailor-made for this award. I don’t expect it to miss with the Academy, but still…

And what of Dunkirk? It’s by no means a true ensemble film, but it will have to pull through with the other voting blocks in the Academy to do well on nomination morning. Though, if we learned anything last year with La La Land, missing out on an ensemble nomination here is a great way to kiss your Best Picture win chances goodbye.

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