SAG Preview (Cinema Edition, Take 2)

Yesterday, Bryan gave you his picks in the five film categories at this year’s SAG Awards. I don’t agree with all of his choices, but I do agree that the SAGs are more or less irrelevant. First, they’re not big enough for any of the major networks — TNT and TBS will air the event this Sunday night.
(I don’t know why both stations are doing so; needless to say, tons of people craving Friends and Monk reruns are gonna be pissed.)

And second, the SAGs have no real bearing on the Academy Awards, nor any real relation to the Golden Globes or Emmys before them. In the film categories, the only real thing a SAG Award can do is give late-season legs to an Oscar underdog, thus tightening the Best Picture race at the Academies a month later. This happened last year when the SAG awarded Little Miss Sunshine, leading some critics to call a comedic upset over The Departed at the 2007 Oscars. (It didn’t happen.) But don’t think the SAG Award for Crash in 2006 had no sway on that movie’s Academy win over the far superior Brokeback Mountain. (I bet tons of actors had a what-the-fuck-did-we-do moment when Jack Nicholson announced that Oscar.)

So the SAG Awards aren’t that important. That said, at least in film, the SAG has shown marked improvement over the last few years in anticipating Oscar winners for acting; compare 2002, when it missed in three acting categories, to ’05 and ’06, when it only missed in one. (In ’04, the SAG got them all right.) So while the SAGs mean very little, they’re almost guaranteed to act as predictors for next month’s Oscars. My picks are below, matched against Bryan’s from yesterday.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Bryan’s pick: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS / Daniel Plainview – “There Will Be Blood”
Bryan said that Lead Male and Supporting Male were the two untouchable categories at this year’s SAGs. I don’t agree with him there, but I can’t argue against Danny Day-Lewis in the Lead Actor category. At this point, I’m just giddy over the sure-to-be profound remarks he’ll make in his acceptance speech.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Bryan’s pick: JAVIER BARDEM / Anton Chigurh – “No Country For Old Men”

Bryan made the point that the SAG rarely awards the actors from the film it names as Best Cast. The last time this happened was in 2002, when Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones won as actresses and Chicago won for film. And at the same time, the SAG rarely nominates two actors from the same film in the same category, as Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones are here. (The last time that happened was in 2006, when Matt Dillon and Don Cheadle of Crash were up for Best Supporting. They lost; Crash won Best Cast.) So I don’t give this award to Chigurh. Snubbing both him and Jones makes No Country all the more likely to win Best Cast.

My choice, then, is between Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild) and Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James). It’s literally a battle of age and youth. Robert Ford is Affleck’s first great role, and Ron Franz might be Holbrook’s last. In that light, especially because Hal hasn’t won a Lifetime Achievement Award, I’m going with the old guy.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Bryan’s pick: MARION COTILLARD / Edith Piaf – “La Vie En Rose”

First of all, my heart is with Ellen Page in this category, as Juno was inexplicably dropped from the Best Cast category. (More on that to come.) That said, I’m setting up another age-versus-youth showdown: Page’s Juno against Julie Christie’s Fiona in Away From Her. It’s a tough one to call, as Page deserves to win something this year while Christie’s performance is the Oscar frontrunner. This is also the only SAG category without a single actor from one of the Best Cast-nominated films, so it’s literally open to anyone. Against my better judgment, I’m calling a big win for Page but expecting a win for Christie.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Bryan’s pick: CATE BLANCHETT / Jude – “I’m Not There”

It’s hard to argue against Blanchett here. For one, she’s the untouched Academy winner in my book. And for two, as Bryan said, the SAG seems to love her (and all things British). But the SAG also loves high-profile roles. Note Eddie Murphy’s win for Dreamgirls over Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) last year. Or Paul Giamatti for Cinderella Man over George Clooney (Syriana) in 2006. In that vein, I’m calling an Amy Ryan win in this category. It’s not like she doesn’t deserve it; she was the frontrunner in this category before Blanchett overtook her. I think the SAG remembers that.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Bryan’s pick: INTO THE WILD

First and foremost, screw the SAG for leaving Juno out of this category. Not only should it be nominated for Best Cast; it should win. Ellen Page, Michael Cera, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Olivia Thirlby, Jason Bateman and even Jennifer Garner give pitch-perfect performances, and the SAG has a love affair with quirky comedy. They gave Best Cast to Little Miss Sunshine in 2007, Sideways in 2005, and The Full Monty in 1998. THE FULL FUCKING MONTY. And no room for Juno? Please.

But ranting aside, I give this one to No Country for Old Men. Bryan’s right to praise No Country’s directing and writing, but don’t forget that No Country has no soundtrack. All that tension, or at least a third of it, came from mesmerizing performances.

Below is a recap of Jon’s Predictions for the SAG Awards. My disagreements with Bryan are marked with an (X).

Best Actor: Daniel-Day Lewis
Best Supporting Actor: Hal Holbrook (X)
Best Actress: Ellen Page (X)
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Ryan (X)
Best Ensemble: No Country for Old Men (X)

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