Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, a semi-autobiographical study of that city on the brink of The Troubles, has performed strongly at the nominations for the 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG).
The Irish actor Ruth Negga consolidated her position in awards season with a best supporting actress nod for Rebecca Hall’s Passing.
Negga also figured in the long lists announced today by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Since its inception in the early 1990s, the Guild’s ensemble award has been a reliable pointer to Oscar success. Belfast is among the five nominees there – alongside CODA, Don’t Look Up, House of Gucci and King Richard.
Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, Belfast’s hottest contender for the Academy Award, was not mentioned in that race, but the filmmakers may console themselves with the thought that the neo-western is tightly focussed on just four actors. West Side Story was another surprising exclusion.
Caitríona Balfe, who plays mother to an apparent version of the young Branagh in Belfast, is nominated for best supporting actress with SAG. The team will be disappointed that Ciarán Hinds, moving as the boy’s grandfather, did not secure an expected nomination for best supporting actor. Jamie Dornan was also an unrewarded contender there.
Negga, who plays an African-American woman “passing” for white in Hall’s film, has been talked of as a potential Oscar nominee since Passing premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 12 months ago, but best supporting actress looked like a competitive race this season. Her SAG success – following numerous critics’ prizes and a Golden Globe nod – now suggests a second Academy Award nomination is likely.
As well as Balfe, at SAG she faces Cate Blanchett for Nightmare Alley, Ariana DeBose for West Side Story and Kirsten Dunst for The Power of the Dog.
As the Globes slip into obscurity following various controversies, the SAG awards now take on increased significance. The acting branch is the largest voting section of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and, thus, deliberations of their professional body are a reliable pointer towards Academy Awards. Many vote in both races.
This is not good news for Kristen Stewart. When Vanessa Hudgens and Rosario Dawson announced the film nominations on Instagram, by far the biggest surprise was the exclusion of Stewart from the best actress category. She has been comfortable favourite for the Oscar since critics first saw her turn as Princess Diana in Spencer at the Venice Film Festival. No actor, male or female, has won a lead acting Oscar without being nominated at SAG since the awards’ inception (though Kate Winslet famously managed to win the best actress Oscar for The Reader after being nominated as best supporting at SAG). Who is now favourite? Maybe Nicole Kidman for playing Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos.
Bafta also announced the long list for its awards. West Side Story and Belfast topped the charts with 15 mentions, but nobody can call themselves a Bafta nominee until the lists are thinned down on February 3rd. There was much Irish interest. Balfe, Dornan, Negga and Hinds are all still in the running. Jessie Buckley is included in the best supporting actress list for The Lost Daughter. There was, however, one stunning exclusion. Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir Part 2, premiered to acclaim at Cannes, was recently named best film of 2021 by the prestigious Sight and Sound magazine. Somehow or other, the drama, co-produced by Dublin’s Element Pictures, was not included among the 20 candidates for best British film at Bafta. Space was, however, made for such unlikely contenders as Cruella and The King’s Man. Awards season is the cruellest season.
The nominations are as follows:
Motion Picture Cast
Don’t Look Up
House of Gucci
Male Actor in a Leading Role – Motion Picture
Female Actor in a Leading Role – Motion Picture
Male Actor in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture
Female Actor in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture
Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
The Matrix Resurrections
No Time to Die
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Drama Series Ensemble
The Handmaid’s Tale
The Morning Show
Comedy Series Ensemble
The Kominsky Method
Only Murders in the Building
Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
Male Actor in a Drama Series
Female Actor in a Drama Series
Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Stunt Ensemble in a TV Series
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Mare of Easttown