"I wasn't expecting this call either."
When the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) announced its 2011 nominations this morning, a few things ran through my mind that I'd like to ask the voters (politely, of course):
1. Do you really think Jonah Hill's sidekick role in "Moneyball," which merely required the actor to be quieter and less obnoxious, contributed more to the story than Albert Brooks' softly chilling villain in "Drive," a marvel of simmering menace? In the battle between "funny guy becomes low-impact supporting player" and "funny guy becomes one of the year's most memorable bad guys," I'll take the killer. (Armie Hammer of "J. Edgar" didn't deserve the nod either, as his performance is an indication of Clint Eastwood's lack of direction.)
2. Considering that "Albert Nobbs" lasts about three seconds before becoming unconvincing, and the central character isn't well-explored, does Glenn Close deserve recognition just for sort-of-almost-kind-of-looking-like-a-man? Especially with non-included contenders like Elizabeth Olsen ("Martha Marcy May Marlene") and Kirsten Dunst ("Melancholia") waiting for the call? Let's not overlook the relative youngsters here.
3. Speaking of "Albert Nobbs," while Janet McTeer's more believable in her role than Close, does she have as much to handle as Shailene Woodley, who nails some very delicate scenes in "The Descendants"? Don't hold the fact that she's not George Clooney against her.
4. Can you truly find even 10 people who are more impressed by Leonardo DiCaprio's inconsistent performance in "J. Edgar" than the devastating focus of Michael Fassbender's work in "Shame"? Oh, right, the movie's NC-17, and we've all got such sensitive eyes.
5. While there are some great turns in "Midnight in Paris" and "Bridesmaids," do either of them deliver the sense of cumulative power and discovery found in "Super 8," "Drive," "Warrior" or "Martha Marcy May Marlene"? I know they're not as widely seen, but the SAG should be open to anything.
That doesn't mean they got it all wrong. The SAG's best moves:
-- Nick Nolte, Outstanding Supporting Actor nominee for "Warrior." The top performance in an absurdly overlooked movie.
-- Jessica Chastain, Outstanding Supporting Actress nominee for "The Help." She's even better in "Take Shelter," but one of the breakout stars of the year deserves recognition for a terrific year, regardless of the film.
-- "The Artist," nominated for Outstanding Ensemble as well as Outstanding actor (Jean Dujardin) and Outstanding Supporting Actress (Berenice Bejo). The movie's already dealing with a ridiculous backlash; I hope people don't get caught up in that and miss a movie this perfectly acted, fun and downright lovable.
Read Curt Wagner's take on the TV noms