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December movie releases get little SAG Awards love, but be careful what you read into that

Christian Bale

Christian Bale scored a SAG Awards nod for his turn as Michael Burry in Adam McKay’s "The Big Short.”

( Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures)

It may be the most wonderful time of the year in other ways, but movies opening on or around Christmas traditionally face a significant hurdle when it comes to landing SAG Awards nominations. Voting for this year’s SAG Awards nominations closed Dec. 7, putting films opening later in December at a competitive disadvantage, and, as in years past, the nominations largely reflected that.

Adam McKay’s financial-crisis dramedy “The Big Short,” which opens in limited release Dec. 11, squeezed into the ensemble category, getting an instant boost in this year’s best picture race, and also scored a supporting actor nomination for Christian Bale. And Leonardo DiCaprio received a lead actor nod for his turn in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Western “The Revenant,” which opens Dec. 25.

But beyond that, December movies came up completely empty-handed. The Will Smith-starring NFL drama “Concussion,” David O. Russell’s “Joy” and Quentin Tarantino’s Western “The Hateful Eight” all got no love. 

SAG Awards 2016: Full coverage | PHOTOS: Top nominees | List of nominees | Snubs, surprises and reactions

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It’s easy to overinterpret the lack of a nomination as a sign of a lack of support for a film. In a few instances, studios were unable to make the November deadline to send out screeners to the Screen Actors Guild’s nominating committee, or sent them on the later end. In the case of “The Hateful Eight,” Tarantino insisted that the movie be seen on the big screen, SAG Awards odds be damned. 

As for gauging the SAG Awards nominations’ implications for the Oscar race, when it comes to December releases, there too things can be murkier than they appear. Last year, Paramount Pictures missed the deadline to send screeners of its Christmas release “Selma" to the nominating committee and the film scored no nominations but still went on to score a best picture nomination from the Academy. The same thing happened with Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” among numerous other examples.

With the Golden Globes nominations coming tomorrow, an awards season that has thus far been unusually hard to read should start to come into greater focus. But this early in the race, any sweeping analysis should be taken with a grain of salt.

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