Screen Actors Guild 2017 Predictions!

Credit: Photo by Buckner/Variety/REX

Credit: Photo by Buckner/Variety/REX

I’m still working the kinks out, flexing my muscles, easing myself back into this blog. As you are probably aware, tomorrow will see the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards telecast. Since giving my opinion on weighty matters such as who will win which of the many awards the film industry likes to hand out to themselves is one of my specialties, I’m back with my predictions.

The SAG Awards and their show are all about the actors. We don’t have to waste time on the “crafts” or below-the-line names that no one recognizes and who run the show well past midnight, no matter how many times the orchestra tries to “play off” a winner who may never have this moment in the spotlight again and their over-long speech. (That was sarcasm, by the way. I’m one of those people who always stays for the credits at the end of a film. It’s the least we can do for those “below-the-line” names, without whom the film we’ve just watched could not be made.)  In any case, I like the SAG Awards show. Unlike the Oscars, where everyone sits in a theater counting the minutes before they can hit the bar or the snack table, but like The Golden Globes, everyone sits at tables with their respective casts, many of whom have not seen each other since their project wrapped – unless, like the casts of La La Land or Moonlight, for example, they’ve been hitting the “circuit” together for the past few months. Food is served, if you get there on time, and the champagne flows freely.  So tipsy actors get to accept awards given to them by their fellow actors. The speeches are generally the best of the major televised shows.  And the show ends on time.

FILM:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea 

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

I have to go with Casey Affleck. He’s been dominating awards season in this category. If he loses to anyone, it will be to Denzel Washington, who has never won a SAG Award. No, really.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Amy Adams, Arrival

Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

If SAG voting hadn’t already been concluded by the time Oscar nominations were announced, I might have gone with Amy Adams here, just to right the incredible wrong done to her by the Academy. But as it is, this comes down to early favorites Natalie Portman and Emma Stone.  Jackie’s star has faded and I think the buzz has gone off of Portman’s portrayal. Emma Stone won the Golden Globe for Musical/Comedy and here, awarding her is a way to award the movie, since it was not nominated in the Ensemble category (because really, La La Land is a two-person film. There is no real ensemble).

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight *

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Another actor dominating most of the guild and critics awards is Mahershala Ali. I can’t really even make a case for anyone else in this category. Ali’s not a newcomer, he’s an actor who’s paid his dues and earned this time in the spotlight. He’s been part of nominated ensembles before, namely “House of Cards” and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and is part of two nominated ensembles this year, one of which will undoubtedly win, Hidden Figures and Moonlight

 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis, Fences *

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Again, I can’t even begin to make a case for anyone else in this category. If Viola Davis doesn’t win this, all bets are off and Chaos is driving the bus (to really mix my metaphors).

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Captain Fantastic

Fences

Hidden Figures 

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight 

This is the toughie. All of these ensembles are strong, but this award is the equivalent of a “Best Picture”.  That said, the only one of these films that has not been nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award is Captain Fantastic. So on that basis, I’m eliminating it from contention here. Which still leaves four incredible films.  I think the next to go has to be Manchester By the Sea (despite the fact that it is still my favorite from this group) because that movie rests on Casey Affleck’s shoulders (albeit with able assists from Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges) and he will be recognized.

So, now it comes down to Fences, Hidden Figures and Moonlight.  Any one of these could easily be rewarded for a number of reasons. I feel like I’m blindly throwing at a dartboard here, but I’m going with Moonlight. *fingers crossed*

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

Captain America: Civil War

Doctor Strange

Hacksaw Ridge *

Jason Bourne

Nocturnal Animals

Throwing another dart at the board, I’m going with Hacksaw Ridge, another film up for a Best Picture Oscar (the only movie in this category that is) and it’s a war movie. Hollywood loves a good war picture almost as much as they do movies about the movie business. Eh, but what do I know? Doctor Strange has a pretty good pedigree as well. (Who doesn’t love Benedict Cumberbatch?)

TELEVISION:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”

Sterling K. Brown, “The People v. O.J. Simpson”

Bryan Cranston, “All the Way”

John Turturro, “The Night Of”

Courtney B. Vance, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” 

This is a category packed with worthy performances. I would be thrilled if either Riz Ahmed or John Turturro walked off with this for the incredible “The Night Of”, but I picked Courtney B. Vance for the Golden Globe and while he may have lost, I’m sticking with him for the SAG. He’s already won an Emmy, so it makes sense (and usually, so does the Screen Actors Guild, even if the HFPA does not).

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Bryce Dallas Howard, “Black Mirror”

Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”

Audra McDonald, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”

Sarah Paulson, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” *

Kerry Washington, “Confirmation”

Well, Sarah Paulson has an Emmy and the Golden Globe so there’s no reason to think that she won’t prevail here as well. (If anyone spoils, I hope it’s Kerry Washington.)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”

Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”

John Lithgow, “The Crown” *

Rami Malek, “Mr. Robot”

Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

I adore Peter Dinklage and Tyrion Lannister just like everyone else, but I’m team #JohnLithgow all the way.  Dinklage will be back. Lithgow’s character won’t. I’m also a huge Kevin Spacey fan, but I’ve thrown in the towel on “House of Cards” (don’t hate). “The Crown” was just that good. Lithgow’s incredible transformation into Winston Churchill deserves to be rewarded.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”

Claire Foy, “The Crown” *

Thandie Newton, “Westworld”

Winona Ryder, “Stranger Things”

Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

I went with Thandie Newton for the Golden Globe and Claire Foy bested her. Others are opting for Millie Bobby Brown, a new name on this list. I think the cast of “Stranger Things” has a good shot at the Ensemble Award, but I’m going with Claire Foy here. (And for the record, my real pick – the actress who truly gave the best performance of the year, JMHO – wasn’t even nominated. Let’s hope SAG – and the Emmys – catches up with the Golden Globes and eventually nominates Caitriona Balfe. C’mon!)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”

Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”

William H. Macy, “Shameless”

Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

I am not an avid comedy watcher. I used to watch “Modern Family”, but got bored a long time ago. I think William H. Macy is an extremely talented actor, but I can’t speak to his work in “Shameless” this season.  I’m going with Jeffrey Tambor, because – well – Jeffrey Tambor. Doesn’t he own this category?

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black”

Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie”

Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”*

Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”

If SAG does love its repeat winners, then Uzo Aduba should be a lock, but Emmy keeps awarding Julia Louis-Dreyfus and SAG overlooks her. How long will this stand?  I’m going with JLD. She gives great speeches.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

“The Crown”

“Downton Abbey”

“Game of Thrones” 

“Stranger Things”

“Westworld”

Oy! This is another tough one. A strong case could be made for every one of these series. “Downton Abbey” is done. They’ve won this award the last two years, will it win for its swan song? But again, “The Crown” is just that good. Will it split the “prestigious British show” vote? “Westworld” was fantastic and one of two water-cooler shows of the year. The other? “Stranger Things”, which could easily swoop in here and scoop this award.  Throwing yet another dart, I’m going with “Game of Thrones”, which, in its sixth season, had arguably its best.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

“The Big Bang Theory”

“Black-ish”

“Modern Family”

“Orange is the New Black”

“Veep”

I’m running out of darts.  I’m going with “Veep” because it has been around for six years, consistently well-written and well-acted and hilarious. It could be overlooked because it hits a little too close to the bone right now, in which case repeat winner “Orange Is the New Black” could prevail again or a brand new winner, in “Black-ish”, one just as relevant, could be crowned.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

“Game of Thrones” *

“Marvel’s Daredevil”

“Marvel’s Luke Cage”

“The Walking Dead”

“Westworld”

The shows on this list (and if you’ll notice none are comedies – are there ever comedies on this list?) owe a great deal to their stunt teams, but in my opinion, none more so than “Game of Thrones”. You did see “Battle of the Bastards”, right?

So there you have it, my picks for the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards. I’ll post an update on the JMHO Facebook page with my percentage.  See you next month for the Academy Awards!

Edited to include actual winners. My picks in yellow. Winners in red. (If by some miracle they’re the same, I’ve indicated with a red *)

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An Open Letter to the Screen Actors Guild

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Dear SAG,

Let me start by saying how much I enjoy your annual telecast. As previously averred, I’ve never missed one in its 17 year history and whether or not you take the following suggestion to heart, I will watch again next year as well. You people know how to throw a party.

The reason for my letter is simple: JMHO, but I believe that the Guild should recognize the voice casts of animated films. These actors are all card-carrying members of your organization and pay their dues just like actors that are seen on screen.  They deserve to be recognized, too.

Now, a regular reader of this blog (assuming there are any) would think that my motive is an ulterior one, that I really only want the voice cast of one particular movie (How to Train Your Dragon) to be recognized and if possible, one member of the cast (he who shall remain nameless) to which I say, au contraire. While the lack of recognition for the vocal talents involved with my favorite animated film of 2010 may have sparked the idea, it is, after all, too late for that particular film.
 
Regardless of what prompted it, I do think it’s an idea whose time has come. SAG, you showed your willingness to think outside the box by adding the “Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture” category. (Maybe next year you’ll even put it on television.)  This little bit of ‘hipper-than-thou’ cred is only going to go so far. Make the next logical leap to including voice casts before The Academy or, heaven forbid, the HFPA beats you to it!
 
Sincerely,

Weetiger3

And now, treats for faithful readers…


The Fightah is a Winnah

Peter Keogh, writing in The Boston Phoenix, compiled a list of the year’s best "Boston" accents on film. thephoenix.com/Boston/movies/112435-six-boston-accents-worthy-of-oscar/

Prior to having seen The Fighter, I would have agreed with him that Jeremy Renner’s accent in The Town should be at the top of the heap. It was spot on perfect and yes, even better than "native" Ben Affleck’s.  (Renner deserves a nomination for the role in any case.)

I would also agree that Boston/Dorchester native Mark Wahlberg’s is not as good as Christian Bale’s, but for different reasons.  For one thing, Bale is British (they seem to have an easier time with regional American accents like those in the Northeast and the deep South, probably because they all drop their ‘R’s) and a talented mimic of accents. (Bit of trivia: he has used a different accent for every single role.) For another, he seems to be the only one who gets that Lowell is not Dorchester (or Charlestown or Boston.)  Just as you wouldn’t mistake a Geordie accent for one from Manchester, Liverpool or southeast London, not all Massachusetts accents are the same either, even if they all seem equally hard for actors to master. (Mel Gibson, or anyone else, in Edge of Darkness? Please.)

(In fact there isn’t really any such thing as a "Boston" accent anymore, in my opinion. Like any cosmopolitan city and especially one with 92 colleges and universities in a 50 mile radius, its inhabitants come from all over.  However, if you’re dealing with a movie about Massachusetts natives in a specific town or neighborhood, then you’re talking about a specific accent with its own attendant colloquialisms.)

So having said all that, I vote for Christian Bale’s accent in The Fighter as the best of the year. I also have to say that while I don’t get all of the comparisons the television ads are making, ("It’s Rocky, The Blindside and The Departed rolled into one…") the movie itself is one of the best films of the year. 

The Blindside? Didn’t see it so I cannot comment on whether the comparison is apt. The Departed? The only thing The Fighter has in common with that film is that they both contain otherwise talented actors struggling with local accents. I’ve lived here for more than twenty years and I can’t do justice to all the variations. (Another Brit, Ray Winstone, probably does the best job. Oh and that one had Mark Wahlberg in it too!)

Does it have anything in common with Rocky? Of course it does. It’s about a down-on-his-luck boxer.  If Wahlberg is Rocky then Bale is a combination of Paulie and Mickey. It has its Rocky-esque moments to be sure. There wouldn’t be a movie if it didn’t.  This time they’re set to Whitesnake instead of Bill Conti. (More trivia: 2nd soundtrack from a Mark Wahlberg sports film that I must have. The first: Invincible)

Before I get to the main event, I have to say that the entire cast of this film deserves to be nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. (Why there is still no Oscar nor Golden Globe in this category is a travesty.) Melissa Leo is a fierce harridan of a mother, even if she tries too hard with her accent,  in the same vein as Jacki Weaver’s in Animal Kingdom, only without the murder. Although if the situation arose…. 

Amy Adams must have been either pregnant or had just had her baby when she filmed this movie. Her body is soft and lushly curvacious in a fleshy non-Hollywood way and unabashedly flaunted in low cut tops and tiny skirts. Her accent might not be the best, but she plays a tough, working-class bar wench better than I ever thought she would and certainly better than Enchanted could have suggested.

The main reason I want the cast nominated for a SAG though? I HAVE to see the "actresses" who played Dicky and Micky’s seven sisters up on that stage to accept it. I have no idea where they found those beauties. I can only assume they’re as local as the real members of the Ward/Eklund clan that fill out the credits.

I have to marvel, (and I know I’m not the first,) at Marky Mark’s transformation into Mark Wahlberg, in-demand, Golden Globe Award nominated actor and producer. Take a look at his list of credits on imdb just as an actor. It’s pretty impressive, with very few missteps. His acting chops get better with every role and since 2007’s We Own the Night, he’s also a producer. In addition to Entourage, he’s a producer for HBO’s "Boardwalk Empire" alongside Martin Scorsese (among others.)  Is there anyone who could have predicted that those names would appear in the same sentence? 

A lot of actors seem lately to have discovered that the best way to get a good role is find it for yourself and have turned to producing their own films. (Gerard Butler, no dummy, has entered this arena and I fully expect the caliber of his acting choices to steadily improve because of it.) Wahlberg is listed among the producers for The Fighter, along with Darren Aronofsky and Ryan Kavanagh and many others. (Does Ryan Kavanagh OWN Hollywood yet? He’s everywhere. The soundtrack is even on Relativity Records. Relativity Media seems to be the only game with money to spend these days. I want to start a campaign for them to back the next Bond film so the damn thing will get made already!)

Much has been made about Christian Bale’s performance and his physical transformation for his role as Dicky Eklund and indeed the first 20 minutes of the film you can’t take your eyes off of him. Not to mention, he’s always good. Christian Bale hasn’t given a bad performance since his first in Empire of the Sun and yes, I’ve seen Newsies.

But the movie belongs in equal part to Wahlberg. He underwent an amazing physical transformation as well. (Girly moment: Damn he looked good! Not ‘Gerard Butler in 300’ good, but still…)  Like the brothers sparring in the ring, the movie seems to trade punches, jabs and heavy hits from both actors, shifting its focus accordingly. Dicky is all bluster and showboating. Micky is quiet perserverance. They are two sides of the same coin and i don’t see how one could be singled out over the other. One of the last thoughts I had as the credits rolled was that a more appropriate title should have been "The Fighters."

It occurs to me I need a rating system. Thumbs are obviously taken, as are tomatoes, popcorn tubs and now scally caps. Of course, I could always go with stars. Those seem to be exempt from trademark. They’re also ordinary. This is my blog, I don’t want to be ordinary if I can help it. I think, for now, I’ll go with wee tigers (or as we say in these parts…tie-gahs)

As my first rated film, I will not-so-arbitrarily give The Fighter    (out of 5) That felt tremendous!  Ahhh what power I wield! LMAO

Alright ya greedy bastids…here’s ya treat: