Since actors make up the largest voting bloc in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, when the Screen Actors Guild announces its award nominees, the results have some weight in predicting the Academy Awards. When actresses Regina King and Judy Greer made the announcement on TNT this morning, Oscarologists listened and took note:
• "Shame" star Michael Fassbender was left out in the cold, despite being in nearly every movie this year. Similarly his "A Dangerous Method" co-stars Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley didn't get recognized.
• "Drive" and its hot supporting actor Albert Brooks, who recently won a New York Film Critics Circle Award, crashed.
• Hot newcomer Shailene Woodley, who played George Clooney's daughter in "The Descendants," didn't make an impression on SAG voters.
• Charlize Theron and supporting actor Patton Oswalt in "Young Adult" were both passed over.
• Three leading best-actor contenders also fell off the map: Gary Oldman ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"), Woody Harrelson ("Rampart"), and Michael Shannon ("Take Shelter").
• Representing younger contenders in the best-actress category, both Rooney Mara of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and Elizabeth Olsen of "Martha Marcy May Marlene" didn't make the cut.
• Vanessa Redgrave, the fierce matriarch in "Coriolanus," also went unrecognized.
• "J. Edgar" is back in the race with the dual anointing of Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, and Armie Hammer as the FBI honcho's longtime companion in a supporting role.
• Mexican actor Demian Bichir of the little-seen but buzz-worthy "A Better Life" has made a leap to the Oscar short list in the best-acting category. He's best known for playing Fidel Castro in Steven Soderbergh's two-part "Che."
• Melissa McCarthy has sealed her place in the best supporting actress race with SAG recognition for her standout performance in "Bridesmaids," which also got an ensemble notice.
• Nick Nolte gets deserved recognition for his brilliant supporting role in "The Warrior," an underappreciated movie.
• Jonah Hill's spot on the supporting list is just another vote to take "Moneyball" seriously -- it's not all about the love for star Pitt.
STRONG CONTENDERS: Movies emerging from the SAGs in stronger positions are "The Help" (topping the field with four nominations), "The Descendants," "The Artist," "Bridesmaids," "Moneyball," "J. Edgar," "My Week With Marilyn," "Albert Nobbs," and even "Midnight in Paris."
FALLING BEHIND: "Drive," "Shame," "Coriolanus," "The Ides of March," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," and "Melancholia." And, although "The Tree of Life" stars Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain both received recognition, it was for "Moneyball" and "The Help," respectively, not Terrence Malick's opus.
A year ago, the Guild's awards reliably predicted the Oscars: Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Melissa Leo, and Christian Bale all went on to receive golden statuettes, while best ensemble "The King's Speech" ascended to best picture. The SAG Awards will be televised on Sunday, January 29, 2012, on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. EST.
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For the full list:
Demian Bichir, "A Better Life"
George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "J. Edgar"
Jean Dujardin "The Artist"
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"
Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis, "The Help"
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Tilda Swinton "We Need to Talk about Kevin"
Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"
Armie Hammer, "J. Edgar"
Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
"Midnight in Paris"