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Here are the biggest snubs and surprises for the 2021 SAG Award nominations

Actors from "Minari" stand together in the film.
The SAG Award-nominated ensemble of “Minari,” from left: Steven Yeun, Alan S. Kim, Yuh-Jung Youn, Yeri Han and Noel Cho.
(Josh Ethan Johnson / A24)

With this year’s awards season scrambled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Oscar prognosticators are still trying to get a fix on which way the winds are blowing — and the sometimes befuddling Golden Globes nominations, announced Wednesday, weren’t much help.

Given that actors represent the largest branch of the film academy by far, the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations announced Thursday morning offered an important set of data points. Still, anyone expecting to get a clear picture of where the Oscar race stands may have felt thrown by a number of curveballs in the SAG picks.

After the immigrant family drama “Minari” had a soft showing at the Globes, it came back strong with a field-leading three nominations alongside Netflix acting powerhouse “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” (Two more Netflix titles — “Da 5 Bloods” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7" — earned three nominations as well, but in both cases that is due to a nod in the SAG Awards’ stunt ensemble category.)

The television side offered several surprises as well, as many of last year’s nominees — including “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Succession,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — took 2020 off, opening up the possibility for “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Crown” to dominate.

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Film

Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies in "Mank."
(Netflix)

Snub: Amanda Seyfried, “Mank” (supporting female actor)

One day after earning a Globes nod for her turn as Marion Davies in “Mank,” Seyfried got no such love from SAG, which seemed less taken with David Fincher’s film generally than the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. (It also missed out on an ensemble nomination.) What may have been Seyfried’s slot went instead to veteran South Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn, who had been overlooked by the Globes, for her turn as a cantankerous grandmother in “Minari.”

Surprise: Amy Adams, “Hillbilly Elegy” (lead female actor)

Ron Howard’s rather hamfisted adaptation of the bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” has been a critical punching bag since its debut on Netflix in November, but SAG voters evidently found a lot to admire in Adams’ turn as a volatile, drug-addicted mother, giving her a nod alongside costar Glenn Close. This marks Adams’ eighth SAG nod in either individual or ensemble categories since her breakout in 2005’s “Junebug.”

Snub: Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods” (lead male actor)

Lindo’s turn as an embittered Trump-supporting Vietnam vet was unquestionably one of the high points of Spike Lee’s button-pushing Netflix film, but while the film earned an ensemble nomination as well as a supporting actor nod for Chadwick Bozeman, Lindo’s fiery performance failed to connect with SAG voters. Surprisingly, Lindo has never earned an individual SAG nomination before, though he did earn nods as part of the ensembles of the films “The Cider House Rules” and “Get Shorty.”

Jared Leto in "The Little Things."
(Nicola Goode / Warner Bros.)

Surprise: Jared Leto, “The Little Things” (supporting male actor)

Despite its all-star cast, the throwback psychological thriller “The Little Things” earned only middling reviews from critics and wasn’t expected to be a major awards player. But Leto has defied those expectations, following his Globes nod yesterday for his turn as a creepy, inscrutable serial-killer suspect with a SAG Award nomination — the third in his career after his ensemble nod and supporting male actor win for “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Snub: “Nomadland” (ensemble cast)

Casting nonprofessional actors alongside veterans Frances McDormand and David Strathairn, director Chloé Zhao showed a similarly deft and humane touch as in her previous film, “The Rider.” But while “Nomadland” earned a Globes nod for best motion picture drama, and is widely considered a safe bet for a best picture Oscar nomination — and while SAG gave an ensemble nod several years ago to “Beasts of No Nation,” which had a similarly non-professional cast — Zhao’s film scored just a single nomination for McDormand, taking a bit of the wind out of its awards sails.

Steven Yeun embracing Yeri Han in "Minari"
Yeri Han and Steven Yeun in “Minari” from A24.
(Josh Ethan Johnson/©A24)

Surprise: Lots of love for “Minari” (ensemble cast, lead male actor and supporting female actor)

Fans of Lee Isaac Chung’s semi-autobiographical portrait of a family of South Korean immigrants trying to make it in 1980s middle America felt disheartened after Wednesday’s Globes nominations, in which the film landed just a single nod in the foreign language category. But SAG voters — whose picks were markedly more diverse than the overwhelmingly white Globes nods — made up for that oversight, giving the film a much-deserved ensemble nod along with individual nominations for Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn.

Snub: Bill Murray, “On the Rocks” (supporting male actor)

Despite earning a Globes nod for his effortlessly charming turn in Sofia Coppola’s bittersweet dramedy — and despite being, well, Bill freaking Murray — the actor failed to make the cut with SAG voters. Murray had better luck in his previous collaboration with Coppola, 2004’s “Lost in Translation,” for which he earned a SAG lead actor nomination.

TV

Michaela Coel in "I May Destroy You."
(Natalie Seery/HBO)

Surprise: Michaela Coel, “I May Destroy You” (limited series female actor)

After being left out of Wednesday’s Golden Globes nominations entirely, it’s gratifying to see the creator/star of HBO’s exquisite and wickedly funny portrait of a woman in the aftermath of a sexual assault honored — even if I will have to hold out for the TV Academy to show her standout costars, Weruche Opia and Paapa Essiedu, some love.

Snub: John Boyega, “Small Axe” (limited series male actor)

On the flip side, one bright spot of the otherwise mostly frustrating Globes nominations was the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s embrace of Steve McQueen’s extraordinary film anthology — competing for TV awards — set in London’s West Indian immigrant community in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Boyega’s absence here, for his performance in “Red, White and Blue” as the founder of London’s Black Police Assn., means “Small Axe” goes unrepresented by SAG. Even if it’s just a case of category confusion, that’s a shame.

Surprise: Bill Camp, “The Queen’s Gambit” (limited series male actor)

“Queen’s Gambit” star Anya Taylor-Joy was as close to a lock as you can get in the corresponding female actor category, for playing louche chess prodigy Beth Harmon in Netflix’s massively popular period piece. Camp? Not so much. His William Shaibel, the gruff, chess-obsessed janitor at the orphanage where Beth spends her childhood, is instrumental to the series’ “inspirational sports story” structure — he introduces her to the game and, when she starts regularly dismantling him, pushes her out of the nest — but he is not central to the drama after that. Certainly not to the extent of filmmaker Marielle Heller, left out for her sublime performance as Beth’s adoptive, alcoholic mother.

Snub: Shira Haas, “Unorthodox” (limited series female actor)

“Snub,” that awards season term of art, isn’t quite the right word for the omission of Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated Shira Haas from the SAG Awards field for her performance in the Netflix limited series as a young Hasidic Jewish woman who flees Brooklyn, N.Y., for Berlin. But it’ll have to do. As a SAG Awards representative said in a statement to The Times, “‘Unorthodox’ did not meet SAG Awards rules. Any productions shot within SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction must be appropriately signed in order to be eligible for SAG Awards consideration. SAG-AFTRA contacted Netflix and the producers of ‘Unorthodox’ and they were offered the opportunity to sign a contract retroactively. The producers declined, understanding that ‘Unorthodox’ would then be ineligible for SAG Awards entry.” Whatever the reasoning, it’s disappointing to know that the series won’t have one more moment in the spotlight before its turn on the circuit comes to an end. Maybe it’ll pull off a shocker at the Globes.

Regé -Jean Page in "Bridgerton"
Regé -Jean Page as Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, in “Bridgerton”
(Liam Daniel / Netflix)

Surprise: Regé-Jean Page, “Bridgerton” (drama series male actor / ensemble)

Executive producer Shonda Rhimes’ Regency-era potboiler was expected to trounce the competition in the Golden Globes nominations, and instead came away empty-handed. SAG will have brightened the mood in the ton, though, with dual nominations for Page, as the impossibly hot duke with daddy issues, and the sprawling ensemble who brought Lady Whistledown’s gossip alive. (Phoebe Dynevor, as the duke’s love interest, was crowded out of the female actor field by her Netflix competitors, but more on that in a moment.)

Snub: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, “Never Have I Ever” (comedy series female actor / ensemble)

Now that “Schitt’s Creek” is a bona fide Emmy/Golden Globes/SAG Awards phenomenon, there may be no more underappreciated series on TV than Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher’s high-school comedy, refracted through the triple lens of grief, the immigrant experience and John McEnroe’s anger management issues. And what sells the Netflix series’ heightened sensibility is the incandescent charm and comic timing of breakout star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, as well as the note-perfect ensemble that surrounds her — including the richly nuanced Poorna Jagannathan as her mother and McEnroe himself, the narrator who shouldn’t work but does.

Surprise: Only 2 series, both from Netflix, represented in female actor drama

This may be the pot calling the kettle black, since so much of this list has focused on the streamer’s titles. But reducing dramatic acting by women to “The Crown” and “Ozark,” two series on one platform, isn’t just a mark of Netflix’s voluminous output. It’s a complete failure of imagination on the part of SAG voters. Yes, it was a year in TV defined by reassuring comedies and sterling miniseries, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t options for breaking up the Netflix stranglehold: Both Jurnee Smollett and Wunmi Mosaku turned in formidable performances on HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” and Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, Cush Jumo and Sarah Steele all walk the extraordinary tonal tightrope that is “The Good Fight” (CBS All Access), the very best show on TV.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. in "Hamilton"
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. perform in “Hamilton” on the streaming service Disney+.
(Disney+)

Snub: The “Hamilton” cast (except Daveed Diggs)

Nothing against Diggs, but his selection — to the exclusion of castmates Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr., among others — highlights a quirk of the SAG Awards’ TV categories that seems especially out of step this year: There’s no ensemble prize for limited series and TV movies. And with a bumper crop of limited series to choose from, that means even more deserving performers and titles are left out than might otherwise be the case. It’s not only the aforementioned “Hamilton,” “I May Destroy You,” “Queen’s Gambit” and “Small Axe,” either. “Mrs. America” earned Cate Blanchett a well-deserved nod, but there’s no ensemble recognition for Emmy winner Uzo Aduba, Tracey Ullmann, Margo Martindale, Rose Byrne, Sarah Paulson, et al. It’s time for the SAG Awards to update its categories for the 21st century.

Updates

2:29 p.m. Feb. 4, 2021: This story has been updated with a statement from the SAG Awards explaining why “Unorthodox” was ineligible.


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