Thursday, December 16, 2010

SAG Injustice: When a Nomination is Still a Snub

In the afterglow of the SAG nominations, when publicists, stars and pundits are all aglow with congratulatory messaging of every sort and critics are bemoaning the fate of talented but snubbed performances, one annual dismaying group of snubs always slips through the cracks. I'm talking about the people who contributed to the movies nominated as Best Ensemble but weren't actually included when the nomination was awarded.  The nominated ensemble casts of The Fighter, The King's Speech, Black Swan, The Social Network and The Kids Are All Right do not, in all cases, fully represent the acting achievements within the film.

The following actors were not nominated in "ensemble"

Black Swan ~ This nomination includes all those demented raven-haired beauties: Natalie Portman, Barbara Hershey, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder and the man fucking with their pretty heads: Vincent Cassell. Noticeably absent: Benjamin Millepied, the principle male dancer should have also been listed. While it's true he doesn't have a lot of "acting" to do, he gets some in, and actors sometimes get nominated for a lot less; he is one of the chief contributors to the film being its choreographer as well.

The Fighter ~ This nomination includes only the principle Oscar seeking cast: Wahlberg, Bale, Adams and Leo and one more for good measure. That's Jack McGee who plays Melissa Leo's husband so beautifully. Noticeably absent: cameo players like Sugar Ray Leonard (remember that Gwen Stefani got nominated for dressing up like Jean Harlow in The Aviator), the entire gaggle of big haired comic relief sisters, Mickey O'Keefe, the cop/trainer who Bale loves to mock (name?) and everyone else who contributed to the film's invaluable local color and weird but hugely enjoyable tragicomic bent.

The Kids Are All Right ~This nomination includes only the immediate family: Moms Bening & Moore and kids Mia Wasikowska & Josh Hutcherson and "Interloper" Mark Ruffalo. Noticeably absent: Yaya daCosta, who so deliciously handles her role of Ruffalo's fuckbuddy and employee. Seriously now, she delivers fantastic line readings in this movie and underlines some of the movie's more subtle points about Ruffalo's character as well as contributing to its randy high spirits. I consider it an egregious omission. Also absent are Mia & Josh's friends and the gardener who Julianne fires who each get more than one scene.

The King's Speech ~ This nomination includes the three principles plus Anthony Andrews, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Guy Pearce and Timothy Spall. It's arguably the most inclusive of all the nominated cast lists but it still manages to diss one key player. Noticeably absent: Eve Best (from Nurse Jackie) who plays the controversial and plot-relevant Wallis Simpson.The royals didn't want her around and treated her like shit. So... did the Weinstein Co decide to follow suit and do the same? 

The Social Network ~ The Facebook movie has the most bizarre and confusing case of the internal snubbings. Obviously the triumvirate of Eisenberg, Garfield and Timberlake are accounted for as are the Winklevi (both played by Armie Hammer) and their business partner (Max Minghella). But what's most curious is that the body actor Josh Pence who helped to play the Winklevi but whose face does not appear in the film was nominated but the following six actors were not. Noticeably absent: Rooney Mara's soulful portrayal of Erica kicks off the entire successful dynamic of the film's rapid-fire dialogue which in turn reveals, comments on and delights in every badly managed personal relationship within the film. The film is smart enough to return to Mara on three key occasions but she was not nominated. All of the lawyers, officials and interns are also absent. You can't include everyone of course but a few people's contributions are very noticeable including Douglas Urbanski's audience-beloved cameo as Larry Summers, John Getz and Rashida Jones as Zuckerberg's council, Denise Grayson as Eduardo's lawyer (great write up of her work at Nick's Flick Picks) and Brenda Song as Eduardo's terrifying girlfriend?



Can someone please explain how these people are not an intrinsic part of the acting network within The Social Network

From my understanding, the nominating committee does not pick and choose which members of a cast receive the official title of SAG nominee, they merely vote on the film titles. The studios themselves also sometimes submit For Your Consideration cast lists that already do the omissions (The Fighter's FYC screener, f.e., lists only the five names). Or perhaps the problem is the SAG rules which go like so
"The Cast of a Motion Picture includes all performers whose names appear in the cast credits of the final release print. Motion Picture casts shall be represented by those actors billed on separate cards in the main titles, wherever those titles appear. In cases of special, unusual or non-billing or credit, eligibility shall be at the sole discretion of the Screen Actors Guild Awards Committee. Members of the cast who are not single billed but are credited in the cast crawl of the motion picture announced as the recipient of the Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture shall each receive a certificate."
So by this rule, no matter how great you are in a movie, no matter how large your role, if your agent can't get you single billing, you can't be nominated.
Every year there are glaring examples of actors adding to the texture, tone and overall success of their movie, that are kicked to the curb when it comes time to say "Great Ensemble!"  We think, in a prize meant to honor the whole being greater than the individual parts, that this is a terrible and avoidable injustice. So here's to those snubbed actors inexplicably dropped from the honor bestowed to their co-workers! We salute you one and all.
*

42 comments:

okinawaassault said...

For the record, and as much as it sounds anti-feminist, Brenda Song is the best part of The Social Network. I will explain in my own blog in like January.

Robert said...

I'm extremely disappointed with the Social Network snubs, especially Rashida Jones. Even in her few scenes, she managed to be one of the most memorable characters, at least in my opinion. That's so sad!

Wayne said...

From the SAG Rulebook, it seems that only actors who have single-billed title cards get a mention:

"The Cast of a Motion Picture includes all performers whose names appear in the cast credits of the final release print. Motion Picture casts shall be represented by those actors billed on separate cards in the main titles, wherever those titles appear. In cases of special, unusual or non-billing or credit, eligibility shall be at the sole discretion of the Screen Actors Guild Awards Committee. Members of the cast who are not single billed but are credited in the cast crawl of the motion picture announced as the recipient of the Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture shall each receive a certificate."

Yeah, I know. It's not really fair, right?

NATHANIEL R said...

wayne -- JOSH PENCE has his own title card? when you don't even see his face. i'ma have to check my screener.

RJ said...

Well, not nominating any of the women in The Social Network isn't great ... fuel for the fire.

ashley said...

wasn't yaya dacosta runner-up on america's next top model cycle 3? i swear it's her

NATHANIEL R said...

wayne -- thanks. i've adjusted the text a bit.

Brady said...

I actually thought SAG put a cap on the number of people from each film who could be listed in the ensemble catagory.

Volvagia said...

Acting, at the very least, has to have either: 1. Voice heard or 2. Face seen. Something with neither shouldn't be acknowledged as acting. EVER. Nomming a body double? Inexcusable.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Isn't Rooney Mara getting a supporting actress campaign? She's on the FYC ads. How is she not Ensemble?

You snub another kid Nathanel said...

What about Joaquin Garrido in the Kids Are All Right??? The curious gardener who was defamed by Jules.

NATHANIEL R said...

Brady -- that still wouldn't account for some of the omissions. Crash and Slumdog Millionaire both had 11 nominees so SOCIAL NETWORK could still squeeze in 5 more players if such a cap exists and most of these films glaring omissions could have been rectified.

/3rtfu11 said...

Nitpicking much? Category fraud (which is allowed) and Snubs (they only have some many lots to fill) and of course a lot of performances and crafts people’s work that’ll go unnoticed and unrewarded. It’s not fair but it happens and yet you still find time to complain about it – you ought to know!

adam k. said...

Wow, as soon as I saw that Swank (!) was nominated but Weaver was not, I thought, "boy, Nat will love that." But you found something even worse! Those bizarre ensemble snubs are glaring indeed.

I'm not too upset about the Millipied snub, since I literally don't even remember him ever having a line besides "what the fuck?" (when he dropped Portman). Choreographing is great, but it's not acting.

The Rooney Mara snub is ridiculous, though. That just reads so "boys' club" to me. And the YaYa DaCosta snub stings, too. She was really good in that film, and I feel somewhat attached to her since I had friends who knew her in college. First she loses America's Next Top Model, and now this! Injustice.

What's interesting now, though, is that one of the Best Actress slots is COMPLETELY up in the air. With Bening, Portman, Kidman, and Lawrence all but locked and no one else really having any sort of edge, that last slot could go to literally anyone. Swank, Moore, Manville, Williams, and Berry all seem to have roughly equal chances. But I'm kinda hoping Blue Valentine is on stronger footing with the academy than this morning's announcement suggests, with Ryan and Michelle both getting in.

Supporting actress, meanwhile, has 6 women and 5 slots (Wiest seems to be out of it). I could totally see Kunis still falling off... sometimes that happens even with BFCA/Globe/SAG racked up. Or I could see an Adams snub. Or a Steinfeld category fraud rejection. Or, sadly, Jackie Weaver could just run out of steam. I think only Leo and HBC are truly safe.

adam k. said...

Actually, I'd add Steinfeld to the list of possible 5th slotters in lead... with the 5th spot in such flux, she could place there Keisha-style if enough people love the perf and refuse to buy the fraud. But boy would that category skew young then...

John T said...

Song is arguably the most principle of all of these actors that are snubbed-she's in at least five scenes of the movie.

Evan said...

Ok, there are some legitimate folks who were left out (i.e., Rooney Mara, Douglas Urbanski, Yaya DaCosta who I thought was wonderful and only later realized was from ANTM) but mostly this list seems like nitpicking.

Really, should we be arguing that Benjamin Millepied deserved a nomination for his rousing turn of male ballet dancer no. 1? I would never have thought about him again had it not been for Nate's recent post. Douglas Urbanski on the other hand...

I know cameos and even more irrelevant actors have been nominated before (including Josh Pence this year), but I have more quibbles with that than the fact that Millepied or the cameos from Fighter were left out.

Dean said...

Separate billing for The Social Network in the title sequence:

Jesse Eisenberg
Andrew Garfield
Justin Timberlake
Armie Hammer
Max Minghella
Josh Pence

*Brenda Song and Rashida Jones are then together
*Then John Getz, David Selby,Denise Grayson
*Finally Douglas Urbanski and Rooney Mara

So SAG followed the rule and whoever decided those idiotic title cards is to blame.

ABSURD

Brady said...

I think the title card rule was their more recent answer to having to give statues to a cast of thousands (remember when CHICAGO won the award and all those Cell Block Tango dancers were listed and thus were up on the stage when they won).

The rules should allow producers to be responsible for submitting up to 7-8 actors (or however many SAG determmines appropriate)for the film up for nomination.

NATHANIEL R said...

Evan -- the point is that there is something from each of the nominated films that's a bit of an eyebrowe raiser with Black Swan and The King's Speech being the closest to "complete" in terms of rewarding the entire ensemble. sure you can argue that black swan does that but that ruins the beautiful symmetry of the article ;)

Nothing against Josh Pence but I'm still confused about how he got his own title card. If it's a contractual hierarchal thing how did Rashida Jones for example, who is famous, not get her own?

Evan said...

I do find Rashida Jones's lack of a title card surprising. I guess they wanted to highlight the actors who played the Facebook-related kids and everyone else was relegated to sharing cards. They're nice groupings of cast members if not altogether fair for this purpose.

Jeff said...

Thanks for the "explanation" (however ludicrous it is) about The Social Network ensemble nomination. I've been questioning it since I saw the list this morning. I totally agree that it's shocking that Josh Pence has his own title card. Really an egregious oversight and a rather silly rule (although there's part of me that understands the need to have some type of arbitrary rule to prevent everyone from these films getting in...but, like you said in your post, Gwen Stefani got a nod here for her bit cameo in The Aviator).

Kevin said...

Mickey O'Keefe is the cop/gym owner in THE FIGHTER. The actor AND the character - he's playing himself!

Peggy Sue said...

Well said Nathaniel!
I was the first to complain in the other post. The female snubs in The Social Network are totally disappointing. They did the same last year with Cara Seymour in An Education!
Wish they would reconsider...

John T said...

The real question would be how they would handle a Woody Allen film (god, wouldn't it be marvelous if Woody made another film good enough to be in the awards for a Best Cast category?). Aren't all of his actors all listed on the same title card?

The Pretentious Know it All said...

I've always been frustrated when they've left off certain actors from the SAG ensemble roster.

I remember 2004, the year of Sideways...how was Marylouise Burke not on that list? Ridiculous...It's such a double punch in the face because they're omitting people who likely won't get any other recognition for their work in that film.

And yes, Yaya's line readings were lovely "I'd use it!" Love her.

Graham Greenlee said...

If we're playing the "Worst Ensemble Nomination Oversight" game, I pick Million Dollar Baby, where only Eastwood, Swank and Freeman were nominated...

Apparently Margo Martindale, Jay Baruchel, Anthony Mackie, Bryan F. O'Byrne and others made absolutely zero contribution to that film...

Anyway, The ensemble rules need to change... and for my money, the SAG committee needs to be reminded that the award is Best Ensemble Cast not Best Picture. I LOVE Black Swan but its not an ensemble film by any means.

Also Inception snub (after Dark Knight ensomble snub) cements in my mind that fanboys, critics, producers, directors, craft and tech people like Nolan's work... But for some reason, actors don't.

linkinparklova1 said...

The Brenda Song snub is absolutely ridiculous, Josh Pence does NOT act in the film, his body was the only thing he contributed to the film.

Josh isn't famous, Brenda Song is. Hell, Brenda Song is the most famous person out of all of the people that were snubbed (type brenda song, rooney mara or brenda song, rashida jones on google trends and see the huge tremendous difference). How on earth did the agent of a non-famous actor receive his own single-billed title card while the agent of a famous actress not?

In addition to that, Brenda Song is billed above Josh Pence so how come she didn't get her own title card??? Can someone please explain this part to me? Brenda is billed directly below Max Mingilla, she is billed sixth.

NI am more than angered and disappointed. A lot of critics liked her performance, Aaron Sorkin praised her for her performance, she is the most prominent female character in the movie, has a big part and is definitely part of the cast ensemble while Josh Pence ISN'T.

The Social Network's official website lists Song as part of the cast (ensemble). Sony/Columbia obviously realized this before submitting the names.

In addition, I do not understand how Rashida Jones couldn't get her own title card, she is famous.

Rooney Mara will soon individually cover W Magazine, she is the February 2011 covergirl. So I doubt her agent couldn't get her own single-billed title card.

This is unbelievable and completely unacceptable. Why is Brenda Song's manager/team and agent letting them get away with this? this is discrimination.

I think people should stop giving us this 'single billed title card excuse' because Brenda Song is billed above Josh Pence in The Social Network, she is billed 6th, Rooney Mara is billed 7thn while Rashida Jones is billed underneath the top 7 (the cast ensemble, the cast ensemble listed on The Social Network's official website and Sonny's press releases about the movie).

Basically, the single-billed title cards thing seems like a lie.

Josh Pence didn't even say ONE WORD in The Social Network, he DID NOT ACT in The Social Network. He DID NOT perform anything, why is he nominated for the best ensemble of 2010 award? Beyond ridiculous.

linkinparklova1 said...

I do find Rashida Jones's lack of a title card surprising. I guess they wanted to highlight the actors who played the Facebook-related kids and everyone else was relegated to sharing cards. They're nice groupings of cast members if not altogether fair for this purpose.
--------------
Without Brenda Song's character, Sean Parker wouldn't have been introduced therefore the Facebook drama and lawsuits would not have began so your explanation is far from the truth.

Brenda Song's character Christy Lee is the direct link which through her, a meeting between Sean Parker and Zuckerberg was arranged. Brenda Song's character Christy Lee introduced Justin Timberlake's Sean Parker hence the beginning of the drama and lawsuits.

Furthermore, Armie Hammer is credited as the portrayer of both of the Winklevoss twins, Tyler AND Camerone. So it still doesn't make sense why Armie Hammer's body double (who does not act in the movie or even utter one syllable), received a SAG Award nomination, while Song doesn't.

OtherRobert said...

And here I was thinking no one cared that the runner-up from America's Next Top Model cycle 3 transformed herself into a rather solid actor. I knew when I saw an advanced preview of Take the Lead (nee Dance with Me as it was called when I saw it), the only actor to walk out of the film not looking like a fool had a future in the film industry. Good looking out for Yaya. She appreciates all the respeito (always pronounced "HAY-SPAY-TOO," all caps intentional) she can get.

Glenn Dunks said...

How is it that the actor's union can come up with such a stupid rule that celebrates the big names and handicaps upstarts and bit players? Ugh.

Yaya was one of the very best parts of Kids, too. Ugh. And Rooney? The entire movie's plot is set in motion because of here! She's an integral as the Winkelvi.

Still, nothing here is as ridiculous as when Million Dollar Baby got nominated for it's "ensemble" yet left out the actors that actually make ensemble like the black boxer, the priest and Swank's family.

NATHANIEL R said...

John T -- i hadn't even thought of that. woody allen actors never get single title cards. they're always listed together alphabetically. so i guess SAG would have to just say the "first title card" which usually has the top ten or so players on it and omit the "also starring..." title cards

Angel said...

if your agent can't get you single billing, you can't be nominated.

It just sucks. All those hard work gone to waste. The Social Network was great! I give Black Swan a shake in the head, though.

Anonymous said...

That is such a bizarre rule for them not to make exceptions. I mean the credits for Return of the King were for the entire series so they had Sean Bean in them so he got an "Actor" without even appearing in the film! (maybe in a flashback that was already seen in Fellowship)

Anonymous said...

Also on a side note for whoever mentioned this rule likely being instated after Chicago's win... you're completely wrong. All of the Cell Block Tango girls get their own title card, they were strictly following the rules.

Ruth said...

I laughed so much when Jacki Weaver didn't get a nomination - the Australian news reporters here said the word 'snub' like it was something diseased! "She was SNUBBED!!!" Hahaha, ahhh well :)

Paul Outlaw said...

Every year there is uproar and discussion about films being nominated for Best Ensemble that don't have ensemble casts. But the award isn't "Best Ensemble," it's "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture." Black Swan is as appropriate a nominee as any other. Even 127 Hours could be nominated, come to think of it.

Bryan said...

The Social Network sure knows how to brush off accusations of sexism...

NATHANIEL R said...

Bryan - right? it's almost self-flagellating about it. haha. hit me again. i'm a dirty chauvinist.

okinawaassault said...

And when the movie came out in October and Aaron Sorkin was doing all this publicity, he was talking about how Facebook was created because of sexism and the objectification of women. And Colbert countered by asking him why he's doing the same thing in this script. And he's got nothing to say. Nothing! Hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Not that anyone will see this because I'm so late to the game but Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush were billed together in the credits for "The King's Speech" so they should not be nominated as part of the cast. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

That's why Inception got snubbed.
There aren't any credits!