2021 SAG Nominations: Who’s In, Who’s Out, and What This Means For Best Picture

Image from THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 — Courtesy of Netflix

Following yesterday’s Golden Globe nominations, today the Screen Actors Guild weighed in with their own set of nominees. Where the Golden Globes, for all their visibility and lavishness, are viewed as a barometer of the season, it doesn’t have the crossover in voters like SAG does. The Acting Branch is the Academy’s largest, and since those voters also vote for the SAG Awards, there is a lot of crossover from here to the Academy. It is not a 100% match, of course. But getting a nomination at SAG bodes very well for Oscar love.

This is true not only for individual performers, but also for the Best Picture race. In the 26 years of the SAG Awards, only three films have won the Academy Award for Best Picture without also being nominated for Cast Ensemble by the Screen Actors Guild. The first was Braveheart in 1995, and it wouldn’t happen again until Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water in 2016, followed two years later by Green Book in 2018. Even when AMPAS expanded their Best Picture category to 10 nominees in 2009 and many were stunned that Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker won out over James Cameron’s Avatar, anyone paying attention to SAG could see it coming when Avatar missed the ensemble lineup.

Of course, now that this stat has been overruled twice in recent years, it may no longer be as significant as it has always been when it comes to winners. Perhaps this year’s eventual Best Picture winner didn’t do as well today as one might have hoped, and so therefore all is not lost. This race is far from over, as we’ve been saying for weeks. Academy voters don’t receive their nomination ballots for another month still and a lot can happen between now and then.

So while we are nowhere near ready to declare any race over or any film’s campaign finished, two things are clear: this will be the most unusual race in anyone’s living memory, and it’s been a very good week for a few very specific films.

The biggest winner of the week is The Trial of the Chicago 7. With five Golden Globe nominations and three from SAG, Aaron Sorkin’s sophomore effort is the closest thing we have to a frontrunner. So far, it’s doing what it needs to among precursors and Sorkin will likely add to the momentum soon when the Writers Guild announces their nominations. With nominations for Cast Ensemble and supporting actor Sacha Baron Cohen, Chicago 7 is on track for seven or eight Oscar nominations, and possibly more.

Leslie Odom, Jr stars as SAM COOKE in ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI — Courtesy of Amazon

While it didn’t make the Best Picture lineup at the Globes, Regina King’s One Night in Miami is also emerging as a strong contender between King’s directorial nomination and Leslie Odom, Jr’s. Adding to yesterday’s tally, Odom joins Baron Cohen as likely Oscar nominees for their respective performances, and Miami‘s cast ensemble nod is a big boost to the film’s chances for a Best Picture nomination.

Another studio who has to be feeling really good today is A24. While Minari only managed a nomination in the Motion Picture – Foreign Language category from the Hollywood Foreign Press, it can now add three SAG nominations, including cast ensemble. Steven Yeun and Youn Yuh-jung have long been hopefuls for Oscar nominations and this makes their cases stronger, while also coming close to sealing the deal for Minari to nab a slot in Best Picture.

After being completely ignored by HFPA, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods scored a trio of nominations, including much needed recognition for the cast. Chadwick Boseman showed up in Supporting Actor and this seems likely to translate to Oscars too. The biggest miss of the day — and the week — is the perplexing lack of nominations for Delroy Lindo. Is this a sign his career-best performance hasn’t caught on with the industry? Or will AMPAS hear the outcry of a glaring oversight and reward him with nomination when the time comes?

Chadwick Boseman is “Levee” and Viola Davis is “Ma Rainey” in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM — Courtesy of Netflix

Similarly, Netflix also must be feeling pretty good about its chances with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which also added three nominations to its total after also missing out for the top prize with Golden Globes. Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman are more likely than ever to see their names called when the Oscar nominations are announced, as is the film itself.

Of course, with only five slots for the cast at SAG and up to ten for Best Picture at the Oscars, there are other films that can and will make the lineup. It isn’t the end of the road for Promising Young Woman or Nomadland, both of which scored SAG noms for their leading ladies. Considering in both cases that all of their co-stars have been overlooked, each film missing ensemble isn’t a surprise, nor is it a sign of weakness.

The same is true for Mank, which did well with HFPA and earned an acting nomination from SAG. Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried may indeed be Oscar nominees next month, and Mank is looking like a strong candidate to match or beat Chicago 7‘s nomination tally, even with Seyfried missing the SAG lineup. The carryover from SAG to Oscar here is unlikely to be complete.

The SAG nominations do reveal a possible end of the road for some Oscar hopefuls. While Helena Zengel now has two important nominations to her name for News of the World, her co-star Tom Hanks does not. This could be a case where support for Zengel and the film pull Hanks in with the broader Academy. It could also mean the film is ignored altogether. If Hanks does manage an Oscar nomination, the question then becomes: who does he displace?

Shifted calendars aside, this is the point in the season where things seem to be taking shape. Certain films are emerging as the titles we hear again and again, and that should continue until April. Perhaps when all is said and done, we’ll look back on this and say that certain outcomes were as obvious as any other year. Or, maybe it really is a strange year, and maybe a month from now everything will change. But looking at the landscape today, it seems as though this could be the year Netflix takes home Best Picture.

Here is the full list of nominees for the 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture 

  • “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  • “Minari” (A24)
  • “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role 

  • Amy Adams (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
  • Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
  • Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)
  • Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)
  • Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role 

  • Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)
  • Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
  • Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)
  • Gary Oldman (“Mank”)
  • Steven Yeun (“Minari”)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role 

  • Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)
  • Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
  • Olivia Colman (“The Father”)
  • Youn Yuh-Jung (“Minari”)
  • Helena Zengel (“News of the World”)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role 

  • Chadwick Boseman (“Da 5 Bloods”)
  • Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
  • Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
  • Jared Leto (“The Little Things”)
  • Leslie Odom, Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries 

  • Bill Camp (“The Queen’s Gambit”)
  • Daveed Diggs (“Hamilton”)
  • Hugh Grant (“The Undoing”)
  • Ethan Hawke (“The Good Lord Bird”)
  • Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series 

  • “Better Call Saul”
  • “Bridgerton”
  • “The Crown”
  • “Lovecraft Country”
  • “Ozark”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series 

  • Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
  • Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
  • Josh O’Connor (“The Crown”)
  • Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
  • Rege-Jean Page (“Bridgerton”)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series 

  • Gillian Anderson (“The Crown”)
  • Olivia Colman (“The Crown”)
  • Emma Corrin (“The Crown”)
  • Julia Garner (“Ozark”)
  • Laura Linney (“Ozark”)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries 

  • Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”)
  • Michaela Coel (“I May Destroy You”)
  • Nicole Kidman (“The Undoing”)
  • Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”)
  • Kerry Washington (“Little Fires Everywhere”)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series 

  • “Dead to Me”
  • “The Flight Attendant”
  • “The Great”
  • “Schitt’s Creek”
  • “Ted Lasso”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series 

  • Christina Applegate (“Dead to Me”)
  • Linda Cardellini (“Dead to Me”)
  • Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”)
  • Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
  • Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series 

  • Nicholas Hoult (“The Great”)
  • Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
  • Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
  • Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”)
  • Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”)

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture 

  • “Da 5 Bloods”
  • “Mulan”
  • “News of the World”
  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
  • “Wonder Woman 1984”

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series 

  • “The Boys”
  • “Cobra Kai”
  • “Lovecraft Country”
  • “The Mandalorian”
  • “Westworld”

The 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards will air Sunday, April 4, 2021.

Which nominations were you most excited to see today? Comment below and share your thoughts!

Written by
Karen Peterson is the Awards Editor for We Live Entertainment. She previously worked as the Assistant Editor at Awards Circuit, now owned by Variety. Her work can also be found at Citizen Dame and at the Watch and Talk podcast. Her non-awards season hobbies include Angels baseball, taking pictures of other peoples' pets, and tweeting about The Bachelor franchise.

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