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SAG Awards nominations contain few surprises

December 17, 2009 | 11:12 am
Three SAG nominees This morning's SAG Awards nominations solidified "Inglorious Basterds" as a front-runner, boosted the profiles of "Precious" and "An Education" and left "Up in the Air" hanging. Nominations for these awards are decided by 2,100 members of the 100,000-strong guild. They have a solid track record at predicting the eventual Oscar acting nominees.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

"An Education"
"The Hurt Locker"
"Inglourious Basterds"
"Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire"

With 10 best-picture Oscar nominees this year, it seems almost certain that all of these SAG ensemble contenders will make the cut. While "Up in the Air" earned three individual SAG acting nods, it failed to make the final five for the ensemble award. Neither it nor "Nine" sent DVDs to the entire nominating committee but only to the 1,200 members who signed a waiver to receive watermarked copies. "Hurt Locker," "An Education," "Precious" and "Basterds" came out early enough in theaters that they could send nonwaternarked DVDs to all 2,100 members of the nominating committee without too much worry about piracy. Given the limited screen time of the real-life performers in "Avatar," it's not surprising that the actors union spurned it. Likewise for the animated features "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Up," in which actors are heard and not seen. Performance-driven pictures -- like "Invictus," "The Last Station" and "A Single Man" -- had to make do with individual acting nods.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture

Jeff Bridges - "Crazy Heart"
George Clooney - "Up in the Air"
Colin Firth - "A Single Man"
Morgan Freeman - "Invictus"
Jeremy Renner - "The Hurt Locker"

The first four bold-faced names also made it onto the Golden Globe roster of drama actors as well as the Critics' Choice contenders list. With "Nine" landing an ensemble nod, it is surprising that two-time SAG champ Daniel Day-Lewis ("Gangs of New York," "There Will Be Blood") did not make the cut. But while he earned a Globe musical actor nomination, it was Renner who won over the Critics' Choice awards.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture

Sandra Bullock - "The Blind Side"
Helen Mirren - "The Last Station"
Carey Mulligan - "An Education"
Gabourey Sidibe - "Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire"
Meryl Streep - "Julie and Julia"

This could well be the final five at the Oscars. All of these actresses are Globe nominees and -- with the exception of Mirren in the late-opening "Last Station" -- also contend at the Critics' Choice awards. Category confusion about Marion Cotillard (lead at the Globes, supporting at the Critics' Choice) might have cost her a nod here. Globe and Critics' Choice nominee Emily Blunt ("The Young Victoria") could not match the affection for that other British ingenue -- Carey Mulligan -- and the SAG nominated ensemble of "An Education."

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Matt Damon - "Invictus"
Woody Harrelson - "The Messenger"
Christopher Plummer - "The Last Station"
Stanley Tucci - "The Lovely Bones"
Christoph Waltz - "Inglourious Basterds"

These nominees match up with the Globe contenders and -- again with the exception of late-opening "Last Station" player Plummer -- are all on the Critics' Choice list as well. Critics pick Alfred Molina had to make do with being part of the nominated ensemble of "An Education" while Christian McKay ("Me and Orson Welles") was spurned by the acting community as was often the case with the real-life Orson Welles.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Penelope Cruz - "Nine"
Vera Farmiga - "Up in the Air"
Anna Kendrick - "Up in the Air"
Diane Kruger - "Inglourious Basterds"
Mo'Nique - "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"

The depth of support for "Inglorious Basterds" extended to a nod for Kruger, albeit over her co-star Melanie Laurent. That meant there was no room on the list for Globe and Critics' Choice pick Julianne Moore ("A Single Man"), who has racked up an impressive five individual and three ensemble SAG noms over the years.

Photos: "Inglourious Basterds"  poster (Weinstein Co.), "Up in the Air" poster (Paramount), "Precious" poster (Lionsgate)

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