The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards continues to try to build an audience and prestige for its ceremony, shouting to be heard among the plethora of award shows that includes the well-known Oscars, Golden Globes, and Emmys. Part of the struggle is to interest viewers suffering from awards fatigue, which is most acute when the shows honor the same performers over and over again. Nominated by actors for actors, wouldn't it make sense for the SAG Awards to select performers who have been and will be overlooked by the other mainstream awards shows?
The Oscars Connection
Look at the big four acting category nominations for the 2012 Oscars and compare it to the 2012 SAG Awards noms, and you'll find nearly the same exact list. Even selections that could be considered a "surprise nomination," like Demian Bichir for "A Better Life" and Melissa McCarthy for "Bridesmaids," are on both lists.
The SAG Awards do make a couple of different choices, notably Tilda Swinton for "We Need to Talk About Kevin" over the more widely buzzed-about Rooney Mara in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." It's not that unusual of a choice, however, as Swinton also received a nod for "We Need to Talk About Kevin" from the Golden Globes. Her previous SAG nomination was for 2007 film "Michael Clayton," which also earned her a Golden Globe nomination and an Oscar win.
Wouldn't it have been more of a surprise, and garnered more interest, if Swinton had previously been nominated for her delightfully wicked, ethereal role as the androgynous angel Gabriel in the fantasy drama "Constantine"? Critics might complain that any film starring Keanu Reeves cannot, by default, be considered for an acting award, but all types of movies can contain acting gems. Swinton was just as talented here as she is in more "acceptable" fare, and one could argue Reeves himself was worthy of a nod. One of the great divides between awards shows and viewers is that the ceremonies so rarely acknowledge the films that entertain large, diehard, ticket-buying groups like sci-fi geeks and action film buffs.
The Man Behind the Mask
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when creating a convincing portrayal onscreen is the feeling of looking utterly ridiculous. Actors must scream, cry, make contorted faces, mimic sex with strangers, and wear outfits they'd never be caught dead in outside a movie set. Two of the supreme acting challenges the SAG Awards could honor would be those fantasy roles that require prosthetic makeup or extensive motion capture work.
Actors must not only put up with the discomfort of this type of role and the tedium of the process but also turn in a convincing performance without the benefit of their own facial distinctiveness or natural expressions. Sometimes it's all down to the eyes or voice. Two such potential SAG nominees could have been Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" and Andy Serkis for his motion capture role in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
The Nudity Clause?
Michael Fassbender has made many Oscar snub lists for not snagging a nomination for his bold, full frontal role in "Shame." While he did get a Golden Globe nod, it seems startling that the SAG Awards wouldn't pick up where the Oscars feared to tread. While SAG did once give Viggo Mortensen a nomination for his full frontal fight scene role in "Eastern Promises" (the same year he got Golden Globe and Oscar nods), Mortensen wasn't recognized for his possibly even superior acting performance in "A History of Violence," which included some nudity during a tumultuous sex scene on a stair case. So perhaps SAG nominations only arrive for full frontal male nudity that doesn't have a sexual component?
The Little Guy
A common lament heard by workers in any job is that no one understands all that they do. It seems that an organization that is so actor-centric would find a way to honor the actors who are doing magnificent work and not getting recognized for it by the bigger awards shows. After all, the Screen Actors Guild is a union. The industry and producer-pushed nominations for Oscars make it "The Man" of awards shows, so shouldn't SAG work to distinguish itself and highlight all the little guys and gals who get lost in the corporate shuffle?
The 18th annual SAG Awards air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT and TBS.
More From This Contributor:
Heading to the movies? Get an instant mobile coupon to use at select theaters for free popcorn!