The SAG Awards Just Snubbed ‘La La Land’ (Except They Totally Didn’t)

Ask any Oscar pundit which film is likely to win Best Picture this year and, until this morning at least, they would probably tell you the obvious frontrunner was La La Land. It’s the kind of film that hits the traditional Oscar demographic pretty hard, telling as it does a story about idealistic artists, inspired by the history of Hollywood but eager to forge on ahead, in a tale that’s steeped in visual and musical nostalgia. It’s the kind of self-congratulatory, feel-good-but-feel-kinda-tragic romance that has done a number on the Academy before, in films like Shakespeare in LoveThe Artist and Birdman. (It’s also a pretty good movie, don’t get me wrong.)

But some are beginning to wonder if La La Land doesn’t have the support it needs from the Oscars’ largest voting block – actors – in order to remain frontrunner. The turning point seems to be the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, which were revealed this morning. As predicted, La La Land is up for Best Actor (Ryan Gosling) and Best Actress (Emma Stone), but it was left out of the guild’s nominations for best ensemble cast, which is essentially their version of “Best Picture.” If La La Land was snubbed, does it stand at chance at the Academy Awards? How can we still think people love La La Land if they don’t give it a best ensemble cast nomination?

First off, it’s probably important to note that these are not the most important questions of our age, and that they probably only hold the interest of folks within the industry or folks in the audience who treat the Oscars like a sport. The actual purpose of these awards is to highlight the best artistic achievements of the year, not to keep Las Vegas bookies happy. So even though we’re about to get into the nitty-gritty of this Oscar season shocker, let’s also try to keep our heads straight and remember it’s not all that important in the long run.

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

Also: A Year of Empathy | The 16 Best Movies of 2016

And let’s also try to remember what an “ensemble” actually means, shall we? The purpose of this Screen Actors Guild awards category is to highlight a whole cast of great performers. This year’s nominees certainly seem to all make sense from that perspective. Captain FantasticFencesHidden FiguresManchester By The Sea and Moonlight all benefit from a group of actors contributing their craftspersonship, their input, and their personalities to the film. Some films have larger ensembles than others but all of them are comprised of multiple lead actors and supporting performances, the films rely on every single one those performances to convey their overall story.

La La Land, however, is a two-hander. It’s a film about a jazz musician and an aspiring actress and their personal connection, and the majority of the film consists of just the two of them, alone or together, in their own little world(s). There are a couple of noticeable supporting performances from actors like J.K. Simmons and John Legend, but the majority of the rest of the cast is only on-screen very briefly, and even then they only seem to exist to bring up plot points that have an affect on the love affair between the two protagonists. Calling La La Land an “ensemble” might technically be accurate but it would also be a bit misleading. Think about it: Before Sunset technically had more than two actors in it, but most of you would be hard-pressed to remember any of those actors other than Ethan Hawke or Julie Delpy, wouldn’t you?

Summit Entertainment

Lionsgate

So it’s not a snub to say that La La Land doesn’t have one of the best ensemble casts of the year. It has two of the best leading performances, and the SAG Awards nominated both of those performances. La La Land is covered. It wasn’t nominated in a category because nominating it in that category is arguably a little disingenuous. It doesn’t have to “mean” anything more than that.

But there might be more consequences from this, certainly. Another film will now win the best ensemble cast category and whatever film that will be is probably going to be propped up as a major Best Picture contender at the Oscars. But again, that ain’t a big deal. We’re all going to get through this, folks. Something is going to win Best Picture, and when you look at all the likely nominees this year, it’s pretty encouraging to discover that the majority of them really are worthy contenders.

The real issue here is… Emily Blunt got a Best Actress nomination for The Girl on the Train? And she got that nomination over Ruth Negga in Loving, or Rebecca Hall in Christine, or Kate Beckinsale for Love & Friendship, or Isabelle Huppert for Elle? Where the HECK did that come from? Geez.

Anyway, here is the complete nominees from the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
CASEY AFFLECK / Lee Chandler – “MANCHESTER BY THE SEA” (Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions)
ANDREW GARFIELD / Desmond Doss – “HACKSAW RIDGE” (Lionsgate)
RYAN GOSLING / Sebastian –“LA LA LAND” (Lionsgate)
VIGGO MORTENSEN / Ben – “CAPTAIN FANTASTIC” (Bleecker Street)
DENZEL WASHINGTON / Troy Maxson – “FENCES” (Paramount Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
AMY ADAMS / Louise Banks – “ARRIVAL” (Paramount Pictures)
EMILY BLUNT / Rachel – “THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN” (Universal Pictures)
NATALIE PORTMAN / Jackie Kennedy – “JACKIE” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
EMMA STONE / Mia – “LA LA LAND” (Lionsgate)
MERYL STREEP / Florence Foster Jenkins – “FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS” (Paramount Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
MAHERSHALA ALI / Juan – “MOONLIGHT” (A24)
JEFF BRIDGES / Marcus Hamilton – “HELL OR HIGH WATER” (CBS Films)
HUGH GRANT / St Clair Bayfield – “FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS” (Paramount Pictures)
LUCAS HEDGES / Patrick Chandler – “MANCHESTER BY THE SEA” (Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions)
DEV PATEL / Saroo Brierley – “LION” (The Weinstein Company)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
VIOLA DAVIS / Rose Maxson – “FENCES” (Paramount Pictures)
NAOMIE HARRIS / Paula – “MOONLIGHT” (A24)
NICOLE KIDMAN / Sue Brierley – “LION” (The Weinstein Company)
OCTAVIA SPENCER / Dorothy Vaughan – “HIDDEN FIGURES” (20th Century Fox)
MICHELLE WILLIAMS / Randi Chandler – “MANCHESTER BY THE SEA” (Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions)

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (Bleecker Street)
FENCES (Paramount Pictures)
HIDDEN FIGURES (20th Century Fox)
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions)
MOONLIGHT (A24)

TELEVISION PROGRAMS

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
RIZ AHMED / Nasir “Naz” Khan – “THE NIGHT OF” (HBO)
STERLING K. BROWN / Christopher Darden – “THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY” (FX Networks)
BRYAN CRANSTON / President Lyndon B. Johnson – “ALL THE WAY” (HBO)
JOHN TURTURRO / John Stone – “THE NIGHT OF” (HBO)
COURTNEY B. VANCE / Johnnie Cochran – “THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY” (FX Networks)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD / Lacie – “BLACK MIRROR” (Netflix)
FELICITY HUFFMAN / Leslie Graham – “AMERICAN CRIME” (ABC)
AUDRA McDONALD / Billie Holiday – “LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL” (HBO)
SARAH PAULSON / Marcia Clark – “THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY” (FX Networks)
KERRY WASHINGTON / Anita Hill – “CONFIRMATION” (HBO)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
STERLING K. BROWN / Randall Pearson – “THIS IS US” (NBC)
PETER DINKLAGE / Tyrion Lannister – “GAME OF THRONES” (HBO)
JOHN LITHGOW / Winston Churchill – “THE CROWN” (Netflix)
RAMI MALEK / Elliot Alderson – “MR. ROBOT” (USA Network)
KEVIN SPACEY / Frank Underwood – “HOUSE OF CARDS” (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
MILLIE BOBBY BROWN / Eleven – “STRANGER THINGS” (Netflix)
CLAIRE FOY / Queen Elizabeth II – “THE CROWN” (Netflix)
THANDIE NEWTON / Maeve Millay – “WESTWORLD” (HBO)
WINONA RYDER / Joyce Byers – “STRANGER THINGS” (Netflix)
ROBIN WRIGHT / Claire Underwood – “HOUSE OF CARDS” (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
ANTHONY ANDERSON / Andre Johnson – “BLACK-ISH” (ABC)
TITUSS BURGESS / Titus Andromedon – “UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT” (Netflix)
TY BURRELL / Phil Dunphy – “MODERN FAMILY” (ABC)
WILLIAM H. MACY / Frank Gallagher – “SHAMELESS” (Showtime)
JEFFREY TAMBOR / Maura Pfefferman – “TRANSPARENT” (Amazon)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
UZO ADUBA / Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren – “ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK” (Netflix)
JANE FONDA / Grace Hanson – “GRACE AND FRANKIE” (Netflix)
ELLIE KEMPER / Kimmy Schmidt – “UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT” (Netflix)
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS / President Selina Meyer – “VEEP” (HBO)
LILY TOMLIN / Frankie Bergstein – “GRACE AND FRANKIE” (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
THE CROWN (Netflix)
DOWNTON ABBEY (Masterpiece/PBS)
GAME OF THRONES (HBO)
STRANGER THINGS (Netflix)
WESTWORLD (HBO)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS)
BLACK-ISH (ABC)
MODERN FAMILY (ABC)
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (Netflix)
VEEP (HBO)

STUNT ENSEMBLES

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
“CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
“DOCTOR STRANGE” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
“HACKSAW RIDGE” (Lionsgate)
“JASON BOURNE” (Universal Pictures)
“NOCTURNAL ANIMALS” (Focus Features)

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series
“GAME OF THRONES” (HBO)
“MARVEL’S DAREDEVIL” (Netflix)
“MARVEL’S LUKE CAGE” (Netflix)
“THE WALKING DEAD” (AMC)
“WESTWORLD” (HBO)

LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

53rd Annual SAG Life Achievement Award
LILY TOMLIN

Top Photo: Lionsgate

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most CravedRapid Reviews and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.