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My 2018 SAG Awards Ballot

‘Tis the season. I didn’t have as much time this year to watch all the screeners, but honestly there were a few I just wasn’t that interested in. Every other year I’ve done my due diligence because I take my role as a voter far more seriously than I should, but, you know, parenthood. I did not get around to DownsizingRoman J. Israel Esq., or Mudbound.  The only one of those I regret is Mudbound; I’ve heard good things and I’ll see it eventually.

Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Allison Janney, I Tonya.  I could certainly get behind Holly Hunter for The Big Sick or Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird, but I think Janney had the most character work here.  The other two had more of an arc to play with in their scripts–spoiler alert, Tonya Harding’s mother is as horrible at the end of the movie as she is at the beginning, if not moreso–but I saw more of a transformation in Janney.  What I’ve heard about Mary J. Blige in Mudbound is one reason I regret not seeing that one yet.

Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water.  I could also go for Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project, and none of this matters because Sam Rockwell is getting the award.  But anyway, Jenkins was a delight in The Shape of Water, which is a delightful movie when it’s not sadistically torturing your heart.  Thanks as always Guillermo!  I haven’t seen Jenkins play a character like this before, and it wasn’t a huge stretch but there was a lot of heart to it and I thought he brought so much to the character that wasn’t on the page.

Female Actor in a Lead Role
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri.  I have problems with this film as an awards contender, but not with her performance in it.  I could also go Margot Robbie for I, Tonya or Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird.  Lady Bird was probably my favorite film of this batch, but everything was so natural and real that no one thing stands out in a way where I think “yes, this definitely deserves an award.”  I mean it does, because it’s a great film, but when I look at any one aspect of it compared to other films it’s hard to nail down why it deserves that specific award over them.  Which gets at the heart of why awards for the arts are so silly to begin with, but start pulling that thread and everything falls apart really quickly.  I would love to see Lady Bird get screenplay and directing awards, for sure.  The fact that I’ve spent this whole paragraph talking about Lady Bird makes me wonder why I’m even bothering with McDormand.  Alright, I’m changing my vote.

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Male Actor in a Lead Role
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour.  Let’s be honest, films like this are made to get awards.  I don’t imagine it will get any awards but this one, but I think it’s deserved.  I went into the film feeling obligated, like I was doing homework, but found it much more entertaining than I’d anticipated.  The scene where Churchill takes the underground to Parliament completely won me over.  Full disclosure, I also have almost all of Oldman’s movies on DVD.  Ever seen Chattahoochee?  State of Grace?  Prick Up Your Ears (this one also has a great performance from Alfred Molina, a publicly underrated actor)?  I would also have no problem at all with Timothee Chalamet winning this for Call Me By Your Name.

Female Actor in a Drama Series
I’ve seen exactly one of these nominees, Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things.  I haven’t seen House of Cards since season 2, we don’t have Hulu in order to watch Handmaid’s Tale, and there are only so many hours in the day so I’ve never gotten around to Ozark or The Crown.  So sure, I’ll vote for Eleven.

Male Actor in a Drama Series
David Harbour, Stranger Things.  Honestly it feels a bit silly to vote for him over Peter Dinklage or Bob Odenkirk in shows that I enjoy and must admit are objectively better than Stranger Things, but I wouldn’t give Dinklage the award for this season of Game of Thrones and I don’t think Bob Odenkirk was lifting as much weight this season on Better Call Saul either.  David Harbour had much more to do this season than the last one.  Sterling K. Brown will win, which I have no problem with because I have a friend who writes on This is Us and I want that job to be there for as long as she wants it.

Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep.  She deserves every award available to her for all of time for this show.

Male Actor in a Comedy Series
I can’t get excited about any of the nominees in this category whom I’ve seen.  And looking at this compared to the women’s category, then remembering the godforsaken conversation that kept getting churned up out of the mud several years ago about whether women could be funny–my god, what is wrong with us.  Aaaand of course this category has six nominees rather than the five in every other one.  I haven’t seen Black-ish or Shameless but I’ve heard very good things about them, so this isn’t really directed at them, but I feel like other than Sean Hayes the other nominees are just playing themselves.  I mean this is literally true for Aziz Ansari and Larry David, who are both in shows I enjoy but certainly not because of their performances.  Weirdly Marc Maron is doing a better job of playing a character similar to himself than he did playing his actual self in his show Maron.

And now that he’s a known sexual creep I have no problem saying what I’ve long felt about Aziz Ansari–he is not a strong actor.  He never has been.  He’s played very well-written characters, and his writing ability certainly deserves (deserved?) to be celebrated, but I think it’s an insane conflation of his writing and his acting to give him acting awards for this show.  That’s always bothered me.

Anyway, I’ll throw Maron the most tepid vote ever.

Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
AKA who did you think did the best job in Big Little Lies?  This is a challenging question.  I thiiiiink maaaaaybe Nicole Kidman had the meatiest role, which is REALLY saying something given what Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon were also tasked with.  So I understand Kidman winning the Golden Globe, and I’m perfectly happy with that.  My own preference goes to Laura Dern, if for nothing else than the moment at 19 seconds into this clip:

Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective.  The only other nominee I saw was Alexander Skarsgard, which I have no problem with, but I’m just a big Sherlock fan.  So’s Mom.  This is as much for her as for me.

Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series
A stuntman died last year on The Walking Dead so it’s kind of fucking astonishing that they would even consider giving them a nomination.  I don’t follow the stunt community but I hope they’re as outraged about this as I imagine they would be.  Game of Thrones it is.  Lots of guys had to be on fire this season.

Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
Abstain.  I only saw Logan and there were of course good stunts but I can’t begin to imagine what the other films required, so.

Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Veep, which as noted should win every award ever available to them for all time.

Best Ensemble in a Drama Series
Stranger Things.  What group of people has more captivated the attention of the country in entertainment than these kids?  Possibly the cast of This is Us, so, I’m good with that too.  See also the continuing availability of my friend’s job.

Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture
I always take this one literally–which cast had the most work to share and did that work the collective best?  This comes down to Three Billboards and Lady Bird, so per my conversation with myself under Best Female Actor I’m going Lady Bird.


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