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SAG Awards snub Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and boost 'Three Billboards' in a wide-open year

SAG Awards snub Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and boost 'Three Billboards' in a wide-open year
SAG Award nominees Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." (Merrick Morton / AP)

Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Daniel Day-Lewis are names synonymous with the awards season, but they won’t have to show up at this year’s SAG Awards show.

Surprisingly, the trio of celebrated actors, who, collectively own seven SAG Awards and 29 nominations among them, were shut out of this year’s slate, likely victims of the group’s early ballot deadline.

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SAG Awards voters received screeners of “The Post,” the timely Steven Spielberg journalism drama starring Streep and Hanks, and “Phantom Thread,” the period piece featuring Day-Lewis as a fashion designer. But the DVDs arrived on the later side, not long before the Dec. 10 ballot deadline, and the delay may have been costly.

Instead, SAG Awards voters saluted the dark comedy character study “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” giving it four nominations, including ensemble and nods for Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.

Greta Gerwig’s lovely coming-of-age story “Lady Bird” earned a nomination for film ensemble as well, along with recognition for actresses Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.

The other three movies nominated for the influential ensemble category — “Get Out,” “The Big Sick” and “Mudbound” — were somewhat surprising, if only because of the movies they elbowed out. Two of the early critics group favorites, the intimate love story “Call Me by Your Name” and the lavish fantasy “The Shape of Water,” didn’t make the cut. And “The Post” was ignored here and in every other category as well.

The ensemble nominations for “Get Out,” “The Big Sick” and “Mudbound” came with individual honors for those films as well — supporting actresses Holly Hunter for “The Big Sick” and Mary J. Blige for “Mudbound” and leading actor Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out” — giving the movies a helpful profile boost.

"I was with ‘The Big Sick’ at Sundance in January,” Hunter told The Times on Wednesday. “It’s kind of an amazing thing that the movie is still a part of a conversation almost a year later. I guess that has been something that I wasn’t expecting. In a way I guess I've kept my expectations low, but all along the way people have continued to want to talk about ‘The Big Sick’ and want to include the movie. I’m humbled by it.”

The ensemble roster carries some significance. Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” is the only movie to win the Oscar for best picture without a SAG Awards ensemble nomination. And that happened more than two decades ago in the category’s first year of existence. (Some thought “La La Land” would break that streak last year after failing to secure a SAG ensemble nomination, but it was not to be.)

Perhaps more heartening for “The Post” and “Phantom Thread,” late-arriving films that failed to earn nominations have gone on to enjoy some success at the Oscars. Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” did not go out to SAG Awards voters five years ago, but went on to win Oscars for original screenplay and Christoph Waltz’s supporting turn and earn three other nominations, including best picture.

The current, wide-open awards season feels like a year that could make any set of statistics irrelevant. Critics groups and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s Golden Globes have cast a wide net in the past two weeks, recognizing a diverse set of different movies and performances. Any form of consensus might be late to come, if it arrives at all.

Recent years have also shown that past significant awards season indicators might not be so sturdy. “Birdman” won best picture without an editing nomination. “Argo” took that top Oscar even though its director, Ben Affleck, wasn’t nominated. Last year’s surprise victor, “Moonlight,” was a micro-budget indie drama that was among the lowest-grossing best picture winners in Oscar history.

The most predictable element of this year’s SAG Awards may be the spell that Netflix casts over SAG voters. The streaming network earned 19 nominations on the television side, the most of any network. In fact, nearly half of all TV drama and comedy series nominees hail from Netflix (for the four individual acting categories dedicated to drama and comedy series, it’s a full 60% of nominees).

And for film, the “Mudbound” nominations gave Netflix a stake among movie contenders, something it hasn’t yet accomplished at the Oscars. (Two years ago, SAG similarly feted Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation,” only to see it forgotten by the academy.)

Netflix’s first-year show “GLOW,” set in the women’s professional wrestling world of the 1980s, earned four nominations, tying it with the network’s popular fantasy drama “Stranger Things” and HBO’s Emmy-lauded limited series “Big Little Lies.” (Both “GLOW” and “Stranger Things” had the advantage of pulling in a stunt ensemble nomination.)

Meanwhile, voters snubbed Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) and Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”), both of whom were nominated last year and have won SAG Awards honors for their series. Netflix fired Spacey from “House of Cards” following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Tambor’s status on “Transparent” remains unclear after a costar and former personal assistant accused him of sexual harassment.

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Robin Wright, Spacey's “House of Cards” costar, did receive another nomination, her fourth individual honor for the show, which will be leaving the air after its upcoming season.

Excising Spacey and Tambor fits within a framework of female empowerment that the SAG Awards producers are heralding this year.

Two women, Olivia Munn and Niecy Nash, announced the nominations this morning. The 2018 ceremony, which will be held Jan. 21, will have its first host, Kristen Bell. And all of the awards — 13 acting and two stunt ensembles — will be presented by women.

About 2,500 randomly selected SAG-AFTRA members from across the United States make up each of the two nominating committees — one panel for film and one for television — that vote on the nominations. The entire membership selects the winners.

Times staff writer Josh Rottenberg contributed to this story.

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