It should really come as no surprise that the film that tracks the travails of fame and tries to understand the psyche of an actor took home the most nominations Wednesday morning from the Screen Actors Guild. In fact, it would have been ridiculous to bet against Birdman: The Alejandro G. Iñárritu film landed four nominations including Best Ensemble, Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), and Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone.)
Yet Boyhood, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything all got close with three nominations each, affirming that there really isn’t a frontrunner in this race yet.
The most notable snub was Selma, the Martin Luther King biopic starring David Oyelowo that opens Christmas Day. The movie, which just debuted at the AFI fest last month in unfinished form, has been a critical darling as of late, but Paramount didn’t have a finished film to send out screeners to members of the SAG nominating committee in time. (A similar fate was bestowed upon The Wolf of Wall Street last year and the movie went on to land five Oscar nominations.)
The biggest surprises today went to Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) with a nomination in the lead actor category; Robert Duvall (The Judge) in supporting; Jennifer Aniston (Cake) for lead actress and The Grand Budapest Hotel for Best Ensemble, SAG’s equivalent to the Best Picture prize. Wes Anderson’s Budapest beat out both Foxcatcher for the Best Ensemble nod, though the dark, meditative film, which began its Oscar campaign back in May when it bowed at Cannes, did land two acting nominations for Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, and Gone Girl, which only scored one nomination this morning for actress Rosamund Pike.
SAG also surprised in the Best Supporting Actress category, opting for Naomi Watts’ wild character role of the pregnant Russian prostitute role in St. Vincent over Laura Dern’s part as the radiant mother in the Reese Witherspoon-starring Wild. Tilda Swinton was also overlooked for her toothy despot role in the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercer, with SAG going for Meryl Streep, again, for her turn as the witch in Into the Woods.
And in the Best Actress category, Jennifer Aniston nabbed that open fifth slot that could have gone to Hilary Swank for The Homesman, Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night, or even Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars. It’s a vote that provides much more clarity for a category that’s had four slots locked up with Witherspoon, Pike, Felicity Jones (Theory of Everything), and Julianne Moore (Still Alice).
The same can be said for Gyllenhaal’s pick in the actor category. It’s been expected that Oyelowo would nab that fifth slot, and he still may once Oscar nominations are announced, but he was overlooked, as was Bradley Cooper for American Sniper and Jack O’Connell for Unbroken, a film that may have also screened too late in the game for SAG and was omitted completely from the nominations. The rest of that category has also been locked up since around September with Carell, Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), and Eddie Redmayne (Theory of Everything) filling the scorecard.
The lack of love for Selma and Unbroken Wednesday morning aided Duvall’s supporting-actor nomination for The Judge, a solid role in a mediocre film. He landed the spot over Tom Wilkinson’s Lyndon B. Johnson portrayal in Selma and Japanese rockstar Miyavi, who plays a psychotic prison guard in Unbroken. It will be interesting to see if Duvall can hold onto this momentum through the Oscar season.
Thursday will bring the Golden Globe nominations and while none of the members of the HFPA vote as part of the Academy, we will see if their selections follow along with SAG or go their own way. Stay tuned.
THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
STEVE CARELL / John du Pont – “FOXCATCHER” (Sony Pictures Classics)
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH / Alan Turing – “THE IMITATION GAME” (The Weinstein Company)
JAKE GYLLENHAAL / Louis Bloom – “NIGHTCRAWLER” (Open Road Films)
MICHAEL KEATON / Riggan – “BIRDMAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
EDDIE REDMAYNE / Stephen Hawking – “THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING” (Focus Features)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
JENNIFER ANISTON / Claire Bennett – “CAKE” (Cinelou Films)
FELICITY JONES / Jane Hawking – “THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING” (Focus Features)
JULIANNE MOORE / Alice Howland-Jones – “STILL ALICE” (Sony Pictures Classics)
ROSAMUND PIKE / Amy Dunne – “GONE GIRL” (20th Century Fox)
REESE WITHERSPOON / Cheryl Strayed – “WILD” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
ROBERT DUVALL / Joseph Palmer – “THE JUDGE” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
ETHAN HAWKE / Mason, Sr. – “BOYHOOD” (IFC Films)
EDWARD NORTON / Mike – “BIRDMAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
MARK RUFFALO / Dave Schultz – “FOXCATCHER” (Sony Pictures Classics)
J.K. SIMMONS / Fletcher – “WHIPLASH” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
PATRICIA ARQUETTE / Olivia – “BOYHOOD” (IFC Films)
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY / Joan Clarke – “THE IMITATION GAME” (The Weinstein Company)
EMMA STONE / Sam – “BIRDMAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
MERYL STREEP / The Witch – “INTO THE WOODS” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
NAOMI WATTS / Daka – “ST. VINCENT” (The Weinstein Company)
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
BOYHOOD (IFC Films)
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
THE IMITATION GAME (The Weinstein Company)
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus Features)