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Guilds, Guilds, Guilds Galore!

January 8, 2013 Leave a comment

sally_field_guild_awards_norma_rae

In the last several weeks, we’ve seen the top dogs of Hollywood’s guilds announce their nominations for best of the year. Nowadays, the precedent for any of these awards-giving bodies lining up with their equivalent Academy Award is virtually non-existant. However, they have always been the closest predictors of any precursor on the table. The Screen Actor’s Guild was the first to arrive with disappointments and surprises abound.

Undoubtedly, the guild elevated Nicole Kidman to a place of prominence in the Supporting field (simply a Golden Globe nomination could have been dismissible). Everything is pointing towards a nod, but I’m sticking with her just missing the cut for a surprise indy favorite in Ann Dowd from “Compliance”.

kinopoisk.ru

While the SAGs gave a boost to Kidman, they tied a cinderblock to perhaps my personal favorite performance of the year, none other than Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”, in an attempt to drown it in the deep end of the pool. No doubt this miss of a nomination is due to Phoenix’ lack (or even disdain) of a campaign. He still managed the Globe and BFCA noms, however, and I doubt that Bradley Cooper will be able to garner as many No 1. votes on the ballots to squeeze him past such a die hard performance. Either you love it or hate it, but ask Terrence Malick how that methodology worked out for him last year.

Here’s the list of SAG nomination, color-coated with whom I think will advance:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role 
Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
John Hawkes – “The Sessions”
Denzel Washington – “Flight”
Hugh Jackman – “Les Miserables”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role 
Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Helen Mirren – “Hitchcock”
Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”
Marion Cotillard – “Rust and Bone”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role 
Alan Arkin – “Argo”
Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”
Javier Bardem – “Skyfall”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role 
Sally Field – “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway – “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”
Nicole Kidman – “The Paperboy”
Maggie Smith – “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

As far as the Producer’s Guild is concerned, things couldn’t have gone more predictably. Generally, this field has a penchant for box office fair, with the Hollywood big whigs patting each other on the back over who managed to secure the best profit even when making decent cinema. Therefore, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” with its minuscule budget and purebred independent production, showing up here is a bit surprising and more than a little admirable.

Daniel Craig

Meanwhile, I doubt that the mammoth monetary returns of the latest James Bond entry are the only reason for it’s appearance. “Skyfall” has been steadily gathering momentum since its release and a Best Picture nomination to follow would not be at all unexpected at this point. Given that it’s become a near lock for 4 nominations and a safe bet for 3 more, it may already be in the top tier in its total tally, so why not?

It’s really difficult to translate the PGA to Best Picture, given that one has a set amount of nominees, while the Oscars will be an unpredictable number between 5 and 10. Therefore, I’ve highlighted the definite locks and noted which films are surely on the bubble:

Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Argo”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Django Unchained”
“Les Misérables”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Skyfall”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

As usual, the Writers Guild of America continued its inclusive, snobbish routine of listing all of the films that would not receive nominations based on the rules and regulations of the union and its membership. Some of the most prominent ineligibles include “”Django Unchained,” “Amour,” “Brave,” “Seven Psychopaths” and “The Intouchables” in in the original field, along with “Les Miserables,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and “Anna Karenina” absent from adapted.

Given that it actually did make the cut of qualifying films, “The Sessions” not showing up here is a major blow. It will have a hard time eking in a nod competing against a wider field on Thursday. “The Master” finally scored an important guild mention here after being largely shut out everywhere else. Will it be booted by QT’s “Django” in a few days. I severely pray not.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Bruce Willis

A joy to see on this list is definitely Rian Johnson’s mind-blowing sci fi action film “Looper,” which has risen from a financially unappreciated flop to a legitimate awards contender. Hopefully, it hold its ground for Oscar.

Here’s the two categories and my perspective:

Best Adapted Screenplay:
“Argo”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
“Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Original Screenplay:
“Flight”
“Looper”
“The Master”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Finally, we come to the newly announced Directors Guild nominations, which, for the first time, were released after the close of Oscar balloting. Whether this proves a massive difference from other years will surely determine how much of an influence these nominations have on the hearts and minds of Oscar voters.

life_of_pi_directors_guild

Not a lot of surprises abound in this group of five. There were some who believed (and maybe a few who hoped, myself included) that “Life of Pi” had gone quiet in the final stretch of campaigning, leaving the coveted final spot for “Silver Linings Playbook” helmer David O’Russell. However, with nods from the PGA, WGA and now the DGA, it’s full steam ahead for this cartoonish storybook epic. Ang Lee is such a legend in this day and age that there might never have been a question about it.

I’m predicting a five-for-five line-up here, but would be thrilled to see either P.T. Anderson (“The Master”) or Michael Haneke (“Amour”) make surprise coups.

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film:
Ben Affleck, “Argo
Tom Hooper, “Les Misérables”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Stay tuned for my final Oscar predictions tomorrow evening. At this state in the race, it’s every man for himself until curtain call. Don’t be surprised if even what I’ve said above changes in the next 24 hours.

Screen Actors Guild Awards Winners – LIVE

January 29, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s the Screen Actors Guild Awards! Here, we find out who, in all probability, will win the Academy Awards in the acting categories. I’m hoping “The Help” has as good of night as it can, because seriously, it deserves it. Follow along as the winners are announced, live, on The Edge of the Frame.

Here are the winners:

FILM

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE in a MOTION PICTURE: “The Help”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE: Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE: Viola Davis – “The Help”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE: Octavia Spencer – “The Help”

__________

TELEVISION

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE in a DRAMA SERIES: “Boardwalk Empire”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a DRAMA SERIES: Steve Buscemi – “Boardwalk Empire”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a DRAMA SERIES: Jessica Lange – “American Horror Story”

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE in a COMEDY SERIES: “Modern Family”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a COMEDY SERIES: Alec Bladwin – “30 Rock”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a COMEDY SERIES: Betty White – “Hot in Cleveland”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a TV MINISERIES or MOVIE: Paul Giamatti – “Too Big to Fail”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a TV MINISERIES or MOVIE: Kate Winslet – “Mildred Pierce”

The SAG Nominations: My Thoughts

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m not going to lie. While occasionally the Screen Actors Guild throws a curveball or two in the mix when it comes to their nomination day, I have never seen anything like this, before. In every single category (aside from Best Actress, which I managed to score five for five in my predictions), there was at least one major shocker. Not to mention that several films that seemed to be on an absolute roll were left out in the cold.

Let’s start with Best Ensemble Cast. Things here went pretty much as expected. I got four out of five, with my first alternate taking that final spot. Without a doubt this definitely does put the final nail in “The Ides of March'”s coffin. I suppose it might still have a chance with the WGA, especially with the long list of ineligible films, but Best Picture is completely out of its grasp. What these nominees have proven is that “The Help” is going to be a force to be reckoned with. We can now all but stencil it in on Oscar nomination morning, along with “The Descendants” and “The Artist,” but we already knew that. “Midnight in Paris” scored a nice mention, but I’m still not thoroughly convinced it has what it takes to make it all the way to Best Picture. And while “Bridesmaids” certainly had a good morning, after the Globes, it can probably call its awards contention about done. Melissa McCarthy will surely continue her ride to the Kodak, but the rest of the cast and crew will have to sit on the sidelines.

While discussing ensemble, its worth pointing out that it’s exclusion of certain performers in the “Midnight in Paris” cast is really quite appalling. This usually happens every year. When “The Social Network” was nominated in this category, Rooney Mara was disturbingly left out of the finalists, despite being an absolute standout in a small role. This year, some of the most memorable roles from Woody Allen’s film did not make the final cut. Allison Pill and Tom Hiddleston, who played Ella and F. Scott Fitzgerald were left off the list. Perhaps the most disturbing omission of, however, was the lack of Corey Stoll who’s breakout portrayal of Ernest Hemingway was probably the film’s best feature. One has to wonder how the SAG even goes about picking these names and how they could slip up so bad as to miss such brilliant talent.

On to Best Actor, which went pretty much according to plan…aside from one glaringly obvious surprise that was Demien Bechir. Wow. Talk about a wrench thrown into the works. Though, there’s a difference between being flabbergasted and being upset, and its hard to get mad about such an underdog breaking onto the scene in such an enormous fashion. Personally I had no interest in seeing the film, but good for him, nonetheless. Clooney, Dujardin and Pitt earn their expected nods while DiCaprio still holds onto a slim chance for his long overdue gold. At least his chances for a nomination have drastically increased.

I am also not shy at all about predicting the lack of love for “Shame” while nearly everyone else on the web thought Fassbender was a shoo-in at this point. I’m not proud of them for snubbing him, just proud of myself for calling it. He should have a bit heavier chances with the Academy itself, however, who’s selection of voters isn’t at all as random or spontaneous as the Actors Guild is. It really is too bad for Oldman, though. His last hope of resurrecting his chances will be an assured nomination and hopefully a win from the British Academy. It’s certainly helped others in the past.

I don’t have a lot of words to describe the Best Actress race, suffice to say that this could very well be the same lineup we see announced next month. Each of these actresses has overcome what barriers they need and while Close and Swinton are not exactly locks yet, it will still be difficult for them to miss at this point.

On the supporting side of actresses, the biggest shocker was the absence of Shailene Woodley, who, after conquering the National Board of Review was thought to be serious contender for all awards to follow. I feel like a lack of name recognition might have attributed to this miss. It might also just be the overwhelming love for “The Help,” which managed to score two nods in this category. Berenice Bejo proved that “The Artist” is not a one man show and Janet McTeer managed to make it in on Glenn Close’s coattails (actually I have no right to say that without seeing the performance which apparently stands out just as much the lead does). Finally, Melissa McCarthy grabbed the last slot. She is fast becoming my favorite acting contender this year. Probably the funniest performance I’ve seen all year.

Finally, we get to the category that pretty much just threw the entire contest for a loop. First off, the would-be frontrunner and winner of the most awards for any supporting role this year by about two times over, Albert Brooks, failed to even achieve a nomination. Even if he still manages an eventual Oscar nomination, this move has all but ensured Christopher Plummer as the de facto frontrunner. While two other older actors  (Kenneth Branagh and Nick Nolte) made the cut, other veterans like Max von Sydow and Ben Kingsley were beaten out by two performers that I feel actually quite bad for counting down and out. Jonah Hill gets a huge boost for himself and his film with his nomination for “Moneyball” and Armie Hammer, who I spent the last few months predicting but finally gave up when support for “J. Edgar” all but tanked. Now, I’m more than thrilled to see him back in the running.

Well, I gotta wrap this up real quick so I can move on to my globe predictions, which hopefully I’ll have up while some of you are still awake.

Screen Actors Guild Nominations

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Sorry I’m a little late on posting this, but I had a meeting with an old friend this morning which took me away from things. Here’s the full list of nominations. I’ll be back in a bit with my thoughts on these. However, there is one elephant in the room that must be addressed right off the bat:

DEMIEN BECHIR. DEMIEN BECHIR. HOLY SHIT, DEMIEN BECHIR. Biggest most out-of-the-blue shocker in, potentially all of SAG history.

Okay, I think I got that out of my system for now. I’ll have the rest of my thoughts up soon.

MOTION PICTURE

Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture
“Bridesmaids”
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“The Help”
“Midnight in Paris”

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Leading Role
George Clooney – “The Descendants”
Demian Bichir – “A Better Life”
Leonardo DiCaprio – “J. Edgar”
Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”
Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Leading Role
Michelle Williams – “My Week With Marilyn”
Glenn Close – “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis – “The Help”
Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”
Tilda Swinton – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Supporting Role
Nick Nolte – “Warrior
Kenneth Branagh – “My Week With Marilyn”
Armie Hammer – “J. Edgar”
Jonah Hill – “Moneyball”
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Supporting Role
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
Berenice Bejo – “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain – “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer – “Albert Nobbs”

Outstanding Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Motion Picture
“The Adjustment Bureau”
“Cowboys & Aliens”
“Harry Potter and the Deahtly Hallows: Part II”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“X-Men: First Class”

My SAG Predictions

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, I thought it’d be nice to actually do some predicting amidst all of this reporting. After all, the game of Oscar prognostication is all about what’s going to win, not what should win (if only wishing made it so). Therefore, I thought I’d offer up some quick guesses as to what’s going to make the cut tomorrow.

I’ve written a few thoughts down with after each category, as well:

 

BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE

 

1. George Clooney – “The Descendants”
2. Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”
3. Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”
4. Leonardo DiCaprio – “J. Edgar”
5. Gary Oldman – “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

Alt 1: Michael Fassbender – “Shame”
Alt 2: Woody Harrelson – “Rampart”

 

The first three are all but locks. It’s true that “J. Edgar” has not raised a lot of popularity (for legitimate reasons), yet the performance has often been singled out and has enough support to have achieved a BFCA nomination, so I’ll stick with it. I know that I’m going out on quite a limb by not putting Fassbender on there, but I’m just not sure “Shame” will have as much industry-support as it does with critics and festivals. Meanwhile, I think that Oldman’s chances are stronger here than anywhere else. He’s getting into his elder years and is more than overdue for recognition, two qualities that SAG usually jumps on. Also, they’re the only major awards body to have nominated him before (Best Supporting Actor, “The Contender”). Plus his popularity and respect among the acting community is pretty indisputable. If he’s going to make a stand in this race, I think it will be here.

 

BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE

 

1. Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”
2. Viola Davis – “The Help”
3. Michelle Williams – “My Week with Marilyn”
4. Glenn Close – “Albert Nobbs”
5. Tilda Swinton – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

Alt 1: Charlize Theron – “Young Adult”
Alt 2: Rooney Mara – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Once again, I’d say that the first three are pretty much locked in. Glenn Close’s campaign has been heading downhill, yet here, her “due” status will have a much bigger effect. Tilda Swinton should be a sure thing here, but it’s not a perfect world. Though, I think she’s the only other contender with enough clout to make it onto the shortlist. Olsen and Mara are definitely still in the running, but the SAG isn’t as partial to youth and sex appeal as the AMPAS are.

 

BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE

 

1. Albert Brooks – “Drive”
2. Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
3. Kenneth Branagh – “My Week with Marilyn”
4. Nick Nolte – “Warrior”
5. Andy Serkis – “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Alt 1: Max von Sydow – “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
Alt 2: Patton Oswalt – “Young Adult”

This category is definitely the biggest question mark of them all. Brooks and Plummer are practically written in ink already, and Branagh (while not yet awarded, this year) fits a good pedigree and is very likely. However, those last two spots are a mystery. All the major candidates have some serious detractors. Von Sydow, in particular, is impossible to read because his performance is so shrouded in mystery to the general public. He’s locked in review embargo hell. I’ll go with Nolte just because he’s got a great “comeback kid” story. Finally, I’m going to foolishly predict Serkis in believing that the campaign and mentality really are working and that his nomination will come as more of a statement than an honor.

 

BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE

 

1. Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
2. Shailene Woodley – “The Descendants”
3. Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”
4. Vanessa Redgrave – “Coriolanus”
5. Jessica Chastain – “The Help”

Alt 1: Berenice Bejo – “The Artist”
Alt 2: Carey Mulligan – “Shame”

Pretty much the only lock in this category, as of now, is Octavia Spencer. She’s probably also the only acting candidate who’s close to having her name stenciled onto a golden statue in February, but that’s neither here nor there. Shailene is a good bet for this group loves to usually throw some love to at least one newly risen star. Melissa McCarthy is also riding on more buzz then nearly all these candidates combined, so she’s definitely close to being in. Redgrave’s film is on the opposite side of the buzz scale, but it’s been a while since this goddess of acting has set foot on a red carpet, and more then a few people are excited for that return. Finally, I am hesitantly putting Chastain in that final spot, however, I’m definitely wary about her many, many performances canceling each other out and making way for the silent film star or sex addict’s sister.

 

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST

 

1. “The Descendants”
2. “The Help”
3. “The Artist”
4. “Bridesmaids”
5. “The Ides of March”

Alt 1: “Midnight in Paris”
Alt 2: “Hugo”

No matter what happens, tomorrow is going to quite a coup for “The Help.” It’s guaranteed three nominations, with a chance at a fourth. Same goes to “The Descendants” which has a nomination, here, pretty sewn up. “The Artist” isn’t a true ensemble piece, but is so ahead of the pack that it will be difficult to miss a nomination in any major category. While “Bridesmaids” isn’t in big contention for any Best Picture awards, the film has been given more Ensemble Cast citations then practically any other film, so if the SAG has a sense of humor, they’ll probably throw it a bone. And perhaps my ballsiest pick of the night will be “The Ides of March.” True, the film’s steam has all but been extinguished, but it’s hard for anyone to deny the pure talent in this cast. I believe the voters will recognize it as well.

The DGA and the SAG: Now It’s Time to Vent…

February 1, 2011 1 comment

Well folks, Tom Hooper has just won the DGA and the cast he directed took home Best Ensemble at the SAG. Coupled with the PGA win last week, “The King’s Speech” has now emerged as not only the frontrunner, but pretty much the inevitable winner of the Best Picture award at the Oscars. As this film has picked up speed in the last few weeks, I’ve tried to keep an open mind. I’ve tried to tell myself that this kind of healthy competition will make for a better Oscars and would make “The Social Network”‘s eventual victory all the more sweet. However, now that the race has shifted from a neck and neck dogfight to a potential sweep for “The King’s Speech,” it has become impossible to suppress my rage.

This situation is, more or less, a travesty for American cinema. For the last half of the previous decade, the AMPAS showed that they had the potential to change with the times. By awarding films like “The Departed,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Hurt Locker,” the Academy has proven that they have the ability to not only award phenomenal films, but ones that represent a shift in the balance of power. These are films that show a new Hollywood, emerging from the ashes, making art for a new generation and ultimately changing movies for the better. With “The Social Network,” the AMPAS were given an opportunity to crystalize this new reputation by awarding not only the best movie of the year, but one that is an absolute game-changer in the world of filmmaking. Instead, they are willing to flush it all down the drain.

“The King’s Speech” is not a bad film. It is simply a good film. It has good acting, good writing, good direction, good production quality and good music. In case you haven’t noticed, “good” is the key word, here. I don’t think there is a single aspect of this film that achieves a level of “greatness.” It is an iconic example of middle-of-the-road filmmaking, directed straight at a block of people yearning for that warm and fuzzy feeling in their stomachs. It’s “triumph of the human spirit” pornography. More than anything else, however, it is straight-up Oscar fodder, and they are eating it up, hook, line and sinker. They’re all too willing to vote their souls away for a chance to award this heart-warming work of mediocrity.

“The Social Network” is the best film of the year. Even if people’s opinions cannot agree with or grasp this concept, the title still pretty much remains the same. Never in history has a film garnered so much recognition and awards. Never has the population of this nation’s film critics solidified so strong and unanimous an opinion about a single film. However, it’s more than just a critical tally or mantlepiece full of statues. This is a film that resonates so strongly with this societal climate, much in the same way did “Network” in 1976, “Bonnie and Clyde” in 1967, and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” in 1939. When looking down the road, it is a film that will be remembered, not only for it’s cultural impact, but for the flawless nature of its filmmaking prowess. And since I am one such person who can actually make this statement from a position of age and experience (I started college only a year after “The Facebook” was created, back when it was just a college thing), this is, in fact, the movie that defines my generation.

The Academy Award is called that for one reason: it is awarded upon the voted decision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s their award and they can technically do whatever they want with it. However, I really have to ask just what the hell is wrong with these people? Are they really that much an organization of pure saps? Are they really that cynical that they would deliberately snub the frontrunner for an inferior underdog just because their sick of the unanimous praise? Have they really not gotten tired of having Harvey Weinstein’s lips wrapped around their you-know-whats?Can they really not look beyond four weeks from now and consider what history will judge as the more educated and lasting decision? Most importantly, has the Academy really gone back to its old ways? God, let us hope not.

So is the race over? The answer is no. Even when things get to their bleakest point of flat-out certainty, the race is never over until the last envelope is opened. However, it’s really not looking good for David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s masterpiece. With the combined weight of the SAG, PGA, and DGA, anyone who has spent any time in the industry of awards prognostication would be a fool to not call it for “The King’s Speech.” After all, the actors and producers, put together, make up nearly half of the Academy’s voting block. Hope is not lost, completely, but I would now peg “The Social Network”‘s chances at around twenty to twenty-five percent.

At points like these, one can only find comfort by constantly reminding themselves of the most important lesson the awards season has ever taught us: as many fantastic films have won the Oscar for Best Picture, there are exponentially more amazing films that have lost it. “The Social Network” may soon join the ranks of films like “Fargo” and “Saving Private Ryan,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Goodfellas,” “Raging Bull” and “Apocalypse Now,” “Taxi Driver” and “All the President’s Men,” “Chinatown,” and “Jaws,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” and “The Graduate,” “Vertigo” and “Rear Window,” “Double Indemnity,” and, yes, “Citizen Kane.” Coupled with the movies I mentioned previously in this article, this is not exactly bad company to be kept with. However, if you listen very closely, you can clearly hear Orson Welles rolling over in his grave, that after seventy years of history, lessons have yet to be learned.

Screen Actors Guild Nominations: My Thoughts

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

While trying not to put the cart before the horse, it is important to realize that the SAG is the real deal. What we have here is the most accurate precursor in regards to matching up to what the Oscar nominations will look like.

First of all, the actors make up, 3 times over, the largest contingent of the Academy, with producers and executives in 2nd, sound personnel in 3rd and writers in 4th. And while Best Ensemble does not always line up with Best Picture, the singular achievement nominations have lined up with Oscars, per say, about 80 to 90 percent of the time. Last year, was perhaps the most similar, with only 1 nominee in Best Supporting Actress not making it to Oscar (Diane Kruger). Best Actor, Actress and Supporting Actress lined up perfectly.

That being said, I’m mostly happy with these nominations, despite a few hiccups. Without a doubt, the most shocking and disturbing omission is Andrew Garfield in “The Social Network.” I thought that, if anything, he would be locked and Jesse Eisenberg would still have an uphill battle, despite all of the critical love. However, Garfield was the heart and soul of the film and anyone who can blaze through Sorkin dialogue, while still maintaining that level of emotion and integrity, deserves recognition.

The trouble is, who is to blame for this slight. If it is John Hawkes, then I cannot mourn for too long, because he is the one man that I want to appear in the eventual Oscar lineup ahead of Garfield. John Hawkes gives, quite simply, one of the best performances of the year and a true underdog story to boot. However, if it is Jeremy Renner who passed Andrew Garfield by, then I am appalled. Renner was absolutely stellar in “The Hurt Locker,” realistic, unique and all heart. In “The Town,” he is good, maybe the best performance in the film, but really nothing special at all. I still cannot believe the amount of buzz he’s receiving.

Another weird turn this morning was Hilary Swank getting in for her only slightly above average performance in “Conviction,” knocking out critical favorites Lesley Manville in “Another Year” and Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine.” What’s really weird about this is her inclusion, but not Sam Rockwell or Juliette Lewis, the individuals in the film that people have actually been talking about. A true out-of-the-blue nomination, and really kind of a hilarious one seeing that she is once again up against Annette Bening, who lost the Best Actress race to Swank twice in the last 11 years.

A little known fact, if Lesley Manville is not nominated for an Oscar, she will be the first woman to win the National Board of Review award for Best Actress and not go on to an Oscar nod since the year 1990 when Mia Farrow failed to secure a nomination for Woody Allen’s “Alice.” In superstitious terms, that’s a long streak to be broken.

Mila Kunis made a surprise appearance here. Kind of boggled by that, because as funny and peppy as she is, it’s really not that solid of a performance. Barbara Hershey was a standout, if ever anyone could stand out around Natalie Portman’s brilliance.

Now, the good things. I’ve already addressed my absolute elation for John Hawkes come-from-behind nomination, even if he has a long shot, even if hell does freeze over, of actually winning. I must also congratulate Jesse Eisenberg, who has now all but engraved his nomination in cement. Truly brilliant work. and while I haven’t seen “True Grit,” it’s nice to see Jeff Bridges show up here, especially after his snub at the Golden Globes.

While I wasn’t really expecting any kind of showing for it, it’s kind of sad to see yet another Christopher Nolan film snubbed from the Ensemble Cast category, let alone any other category in the case of “Inception.” True, the first thing the mind goes to when it comes to this film is the visuals, the story and the direction. Yet, it is an ensemble piece, through and through, with so many actors (Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joesph Gordon Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard, and, of course, Tom Hardy) all pulling their weight more than needed. And while “Black Swan” does have decent performances all around, it’s really Natalie Portman’s show. One deserved this nomination more than the other, and it’s going home empty-handed.

My longshot predictions for the win would probably go like this:

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
“The King’s Speech”
alt: “The Fighter”

BEST ACTOR
Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech”
alt: James Franco – “127 Hours”

BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening “The Kids Are All Right”
alt: Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale – “The Fighter”
alt: Geoffrey Rush – “The King’s Speech

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”
alt: Helena Bonham Carter – “The King’s Speech

We shall see.