No screener. No awards.
That's the big takeaway from Wednesday morning's Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations as "Selma," like "The Wolf of Wall Street" last year, came up empty, mostly because it wasn't finished in time to send screeners to the 2,100 SAG members voting on the film committee. Other December releases such as "Unbroken" and "American Sniper" did mail screeners, but they arrived late, possibly too late to help. (At least, that's how their backers will console themselves.)
So who came out ahead? Let's look at the categories on the film side:
"Boyhood," "Birdman," "The Imitation Game" ... you knew they'd earn nominations. Awards consultants on "The Theory of Everything" had their fingers crossed, but were worried that SAG voters might consider the movie more of a two-hander to make it here. Apparently not, though, really, the film does pretty much belong to Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. (Quick: Name another actor in the movie.)
Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" rates as the biggest winner here. Anderson has never had one of his films nominated for the best picture Oscar. A SAG Award ensemble nod doesn't always translate into love from the academy -- just ask the makers of "The Butler." Or "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Or "Bridesmaids." But the nod, along with expected good news Thursday from the Golden Globes, will continue to boost the movie's profile and remind Oscar voters that the March release deserves to be remembered.
Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game"), Michael Keaton ("Birdman") were all certainly expected to show up in this category. And Steve Carell's superb turn as eccentric billionaire John du Pont in "Foxcatcher" isn't a surprise either, though we're still wondering how much the academy will embrace Bennett Miller's chilly film.
As for Jake Gyllenhaal ... well, why not? "Nightcrawler" made the National Board of Review's top-10 list and the AFI list too. Gyllenhaal's turn as the unhinged amateur cameraman is creepy, chilling and absolutely unsettling, the best performance in what's turning out to be a pretty remarkable career. It's still hard to see the academy embracing him ahead of, say, David Oyelowo in "Selma" or Bradley Cooper in "American Sniper," but SAG at least kept the dream alive.
Julianne Moore ("Still Alice"), Reese Witherspoon ("Wild"), Rosamund Pike ("Gone Girl") and "Theory's" Jones have been at the forefront of the lead actress conversation since the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Jennifer Aniston's indie drama, "Cake," screened at the festival too, winning a few admirers, and in the ensuing months, Aniston has tirelessly promoted the movie at screenings, parties and receptions. Who knows? Maybe she baked these herself too.
It translated to a nomination over Amy Adams ("Big Eyes"), though it feels like the Weinstein Co. hasn't exactly been enthusiastic about promoting the Tim Burton movie. Could Aniston win a Globe nomination tomorrow too? Well, think about it: Angelina Jolie will be there, probably both for her work behind the camera ("Unbroken") as well as in front of it ("Maleficent"). That means Brad Pitt will likely be there too. Can the HFPA possibly resist putting Brangelina and Aniston in the same room?
Let's face it: J.K. Simmons will be making a lot of speeches this year, picking up awards for his memorably sadistic music teacher in "Whiplash." Edward Norton ("Birdman"), Mark Ruffalo ("Foxcatcher") and Ethan Hawke ("Boyhood") will all need to find new ways to convincingly look delighted that Simmons has won yet another prize.
The other nominee in the category, Robert Duvall ("The Judge"), could show up on the academy's list too. Standing ovations follow him wherever he goes, and they are heartfelt and sincere. Actors love this guy.
Patricia Arquette ("Boyhood") better practice her speech-making too. Like Simmons, she will be a force in her category. Emma Stone ("Birdman"), Keira Knightley ("The Imitation Game") and Meryl Streep ("Into the Woods") will all likely provide her good company throughout the season.
And though I love Naomi Watts, her nomination for playing a pregnant Russian prostitute in "St. Vincent," rates as the day's biggest head-scratcher. That accent! If you're going to laud a woman in the film, why not Melissa McCarthy? Or someone really deserving, such as Vanessa Redgrave in "Foxcatcher" or Laura Dern in "Wild"?