SAG Awards 2012/2013: It’s Good to be Dame Maggie

12 Dec

Lincoln, Les Miserables, and Silver Linings Playbook earned 4 Screen Actors Guild nominations each. Robert DeNiro (above) is in the running for his performance as Bradley Cooper’s dad in the latter film. This is an interesting turn for the two time Oscar winner. De Niro won his first Oscar in the supporting actor category for playing the younger version of Marlon Brando’s Godfather character, Vito Corleone, in the Godfather II (1974). De Niro was 31 at the time, and he bested sentimental favorite Fred Astaire in the extremely popular Towering Inferno. De Niro went from supporting player to leading actor with the likes of Taxi Driver (1976) and The Deer Hunter (1978), both of which netted him Academy nominations. He became the second Best Supporting Actor winner to move on to Best Actor status, after Jack Lemmon, when he took the top prize for 1980’s revered Raging Bull. He has subsequently been in the running for Awakenings (1990) and Cape Fear (1991). Now, after a decade or more of mugging his way through such formula comedies as Analyze This and Meet the Parents (and multiple sequels), he’s garnering serious acclaim in the same category from which he emerged as a breakout star.


^ It’s good to be Dame Maggie Smith, seen above in Quartet, the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman. Smith is currently in the running for 4 Screen Actors Guild Awards, a likely record.

The members of the Screen Actors Guild have voted on the year’s best performances in movies and on television,  and now there is officially a race.  The SAGs, as they are regrettably known, are important because unlike the various critics’ societies, which basically operate independently of the movie-making community, members of the industry do the judging similar to the Oscars, so the SAG awards can, and quite often do, preview the voting trends of the Academy; however, there are a few key differences, the main being that the SAG group has always been much larger than the actors branch of the Academy since membership in the latter is by invitation only; furthermore, the Screen Actors Guild now boasts even greater membership since it recently merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Yikes! As such, I’m not surprised that such critical darlings as Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) and Quvenzhane Wallis – (Beasts of the Southern Wild) are not among today’s nominees. My guess is that these actresses’ films have not been as available as some of the more high profile entries. Keep in mind, again, that the Screen Actors Guild is a national organization with members scattered all across the nation rather in just a few locations, mainly New York and Hollywood. That noted, film publicists work hard to make sure that everyone who has a vote gets to see the work even if that just means assemblages of clips rather than full-length features, but it is what it is. It’s a hard for a movie that hasn’t been seen outside of select markets–and screening rooms–to garner votes from all points of the map.

Still, there is plenty of swell stuff in this race, including the nomination of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in the Best Ensemble Cast category. The well-reviewed flick about British senior citizens on holiday in India came out relatively early in the year, and, as typical, there are a lot more splashy prestige items currently vying for attention, so it’s heart warming to see such a beautifully made little gem getting recognition at year’s end–and it doesn’t just begin and end with the lone nomination for the cast as a whole. Maggie Smith, already a two-time Oscar winner and currently enjoying yet another wave of popularity thanks to the Downton Abbey  TV series, is in the running for Best Supporting Actress thanks to her fine turn in The Best Exotic Marigold. She is also, to clarify, a quadruple nominee this year thanks to her work in both Best Exotic AND Downton Abbey, reaping individual and shared nods for both projects. Whoah!

SAG nominee Hugh Jackman: No, I'm not a butch-queen. I just play one on the cover of Italian Vanity Fair.

SAG nominee Hugh Jackman: No, I’m not a butch-queen. I just play one on the cover of Italian Vanity Fair.

The most high-profile omission–or snub–has to be that of Joaquin Phoenx (The Master).  Well, let’s face it, Phoenix is a wonderful actor, but his off-screen antics often confuse people, especially when he rails against awards and what not. Plus, The Master does not appeal to everyone’s taste though that did not stop SAG members from nominating Philip Seymour Hoffman, in the role of an “L. Ron Hubbard” type cult leader, for Best Supporting Actor.  It’s not looking so good right now for John Goodman, who earlier seemed a sure bet among supporting actors for his work in Argo, (or possibly Flight).  The Guild nominated Goodman’s Argo co-star Alan Arkin (a 2006/07 Oscar winner for Little Miss Sunshine) while Goodman has instead been nominated only as part of the Argo ensemble.

Phoenix’s slot among the Best Actor finalists is arguably filled by no less than Hugh Jackman in the role of Les Misérables‘ beleagured Jean Valjean.  I’m happy for Jackman. The 6’2.5″ Aussie has been a major film star in the making for slightly more than a decade, but–until now–he has not had a screen role that really showed his mettle–and please don’t remind me that he’s had all kinds of success playing Wolverine in the X-Men series.  Oh sure, on Broadway he’s all the rage, most especially in his Tony award winning role as the late singer-songwriter Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz–and that’s precisely my point. Onscreen he has yet to have a role of that kind of stature–until now, that is. I know some people loved him in the sweeping fake “epic” Australia, opposite Nicole Kidman, but that was a movie that failed to live up to all the hype; it was virtually shut-out of any and all awards consideration back home.  I actually liked him in the time-travel romantic comedy Kate and Leopold, co-starring Meg Ryan, from 2001 though even with his lone Golden Globe nomination for his performance, I still admit that the movie as a whole is a dud.  That noted, I know many people love The Prestige, which I have not seen. Mainly, because of his exquisitely masculine build, American producers want to cast Jackman in mostly macho action roles, but I think he’s capable of so much more. At any rate, I think Les Misérables is destined to become a great big holiday hit–and possibly a major Oscar contender and a class in its own right. Michael and I are looking forward to it as well as Zero Dark Thirty, but we’re planning on seeing The Guilt Trip. with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, on Xmas day because it seems like it will be more fun and less crowded.


That’s SAG nominee Helen Mirren on the far right as Alma Hitchcock in, well, Hitchcock. Among her myriad awards and nominations are both an Oscar and a SAG award for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in 2006’s The Queen in addition to Oscar nods for The Last Station (Best Actress, 2009), Gosford Park (Best Supporting Actress, 2001), and The Madness of King George (Best Supporting Actress, 1994). She won her own SAG award for Gosford in addition to sharing the prize for Best Ensemble for the same movie.

On the other hand, if there is a surprise nominee in any of these categories, I would say it would have to be Helen Mirren in the role of Alfred Hitchcock’s beloved wife and frequent collaborator Alma in Hitchcock, which we still have not gotten around to seeing. Of course, we love Mirren, so this could be an interesting turn…

Here are the SAG nominees in the film categories. You’ll have to use the link to read about the TV nominations.

  1. Jessica Chastain  (Zero Dark Thirty)
  2. Marion Cotillard – (Rust and Bone)
  3. Jennifer Lawrence – (Silver Linings Playbook)
  4. Helen Mirren (Hitchcock)
  5. Naomi Watts  (The Impossible)
  1. Bradley Cooper  (Silver Linings Playbook)
  2. Daniel Day-Lewis  (Lincoln)
  3. John Hawkes – (The Sessions)
  4. Hugh Jackman  (Les Misérables)
  5. Denzel Washington (Flight)
  1.  Sally Field (Lincoln)
  2. Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
  3. Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
  4. Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy)
  5. Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
  1. Alan Arkin  (Argo)
  2. Javier Bardem  (Skyfall)
  3. Robert De Niro ( Silver Linings Playbook)
  4. Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
  5. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
  1.  Argo
  2. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  3. Les Misérables
  4. Lincoln
  5. Silver Linings Playbook
  1. The Amazing Spider-man
  2. The Bourne Legacy
  3. The Dark Knight Rises
  4. Les Misérables
  5. Skyfall

Official Screen Actors Guild Awards Press Release:


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