With the actors branch representing by far the biggest slice of the motion picture academy's pie, the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations announced Wednesday morning will be closely scrutinized by Oscar prognosticators for clues of which way this year's awards season winds are blowing. On that score, the nominations deliver a number of curveballs, further muddying what is already an already fairly wide open awards season, while on the television side, there were several surprises as well.
Snub: No nominations for "Little Women"
Director Greta Gerwig's highly anticipated take on Louisa May Alcott's classic novel came into awards season as a presumed heavy-hitter, led by a starry ensemble cast featuring Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep. But on the heels of Monday's Golden Globes nominations, in which the film scored just two nominations for Ronan and its score, the film was completely shut out by SAG, portending a possible uphill climb ahead.
Surprise: "Parasite" scores an ensemble nod
Bong Joon Ho's dark class satire has been one of this awards season's wild cards from the start, a genre-scrambling, Korean-language film with ambitions of breaking out of the academy's international film box to land a spot in the best picture Oscar race. While "Parasite" didn't earn any individual nominations, its spot in the ensemble category -- SAG's closest proxy to a best picture nod, and a category even Netflix's mighty foreign language contender "Roma" couldn't crack last year -- along with ecstatic reviews, a slew of critics' group awards and its strong showing in the Globes derby suggest it's probably a lock to get there.
Snub: No lead actor nominations for Robert De Niro ("The Irishman"), Eddie Murphy ("Dolemite Is My Name") and Antonio Banderas ("Pain and Glory")
This year's lead actor Oscar category is the most competitive in memory so it's no wonder that, as awards season has rolled on, the placings in the horse race have continually shifted. Though De Niro's character is central to Martin Scorsese's mob epic "The Irishman" (indeed, he is the Irishman), the actor failed to make the cut both with the Globes and SAG, though the film did earn nominations for its entire ensemble as well as supporting nods for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. (De Niro will also receive this year's Lifetime Achievement Award during the SAG Awards, some consolation you could say.) Meanwhile, Murphy and Banderas, who have been very much in the mix for what many consider career-best performances, were passed over.
Surprise: Taron Egerton in as lead actor for "Rocketman"
Though Egerton earned strong reviews for his turn as Elton John in the biopic of the singer, given how packed the lead-actor category is this year, he has generally been considered on the bubble for serious awards consideration. Nevertheless, as Rami Malek demonstrated last year with his Oscar-winning turn as Freddie Mercury in the critically dismissed "Bohemian Rhapsody," actors clearly love seeing other actors play rock stars. With better overall reviews than "Rhapsody," and in the wake of his Globes nod and now a SAG nomination, Egerton's Oscar prospects have suddenly taken off like a rocket.