Viola Davis, Angela Bassett, Danielle Deadwyler Keep Awards Hopes Alive With SAG Nominations

Photo:  Jon Kopaloff, Amy Sussman, Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)
Photo: Jon Kopaloff, Amy Sussman, Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)

Among the high-profile awards shows, the Screen Actors Guild awards sometimes offer the best chance for surprise nominations and wins. However, this year was shockingly predictable, and that wasn’t good news for Black stars and series. That doesn’t mean we didn’t see any recognition for our favorite artists, it’s just that the names we’ve already seen dominate awards season were nominated here. I’m not taking anything away from the well-deserved nominees, but in this case, the snubs tell us more than the honorees. So, let’s start with the good news.

Viola Davis received recognition for The Woman King alongside Danielle Deadwyler in Till for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. They face tough competition from Cate Blanchett in Tár, Ana de Armas in Blonde and Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Based on previous critics’ lists, this category seems to be between Blanchett and Yeoh, so a win from Davis or Deadwyler is unexpected. Particularly for Deadwyler, this is a case where the nomination is the win.

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Golden Globe-winner Angela Bassett is nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her unforgettable work in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She’s recognized alongside Hong Chau in The Whale, Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin, Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All at Once and Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Since the SAG awards are only voted on by SAG-AFTRA members, this may come down to a battle of the legends between Bassett and Curtis. However, Hsu could sneak in and grab the win if they split the vote.

Over on the TV side, there are no surprises as Zendaya is up for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for her endlessly brilliant work on Euphoria. Meanwhile, Quinta Brunson and the cast of Abbott Elementary are nominated in the comedy series categories, both for Female Actor and Ensemble. One of the season’s best stories continues as Niecy Nash Betts is up for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series for her role as Glenda Cleveland in Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. Other than being included in nominations for Ensemble categories, no Black male actors have been singled out for their work. So, that means no recognition for Jeremy Pope in The Inspection, Tyler James Williams in Abbott Elementary or Samuel L. Jackson in The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Just to go in on that last omission, I’m not trying to disparage nominees Steve Carrell (The Patient); Taron Egerton (Black Bird); Sam Elliott (1883); Paul Walter Hauser (Black Bird) or Evan Peters (Dahmer), but are you really telling me Samuel L. Jackson’s extraordinary performance wasn’t worthy of being included with these men?

With most of these nominees appearing on other lists, I’m not claiming there was some grand plan at work. It just feels like these awards organizations are still not seeing the full picture when they constantly exclude Black artists from recognition.

To end on a good note, let’s take a moment and shout out the stunt teams for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Woman King for their nominations for Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture.

After 25 years on TNT and TBS, the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards moves online to air on Netflix’s YouTube channel on Sunday, Feb. 26. The show will then move to Netflix in 2024.

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