After sizing up the current state of the 6 major Oscar races with yesterday's Oscar Talk, we've been graced with the first "real" precursor awards this morning. The important Screen Actors Guild Nominations have officially been announced and, as usual, there are plenty of surprises in the acting categories.
Let's begin with the Best Ensemble category. Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel receives a big boost with its inclusion in the top five. Many have given Ralph Fiennes a fighter's chance in the Best Actor race, but no one else from the film had been mentioned. Foxcatcher is the film taking the biggest hit here. As an outspoken fan of Bennett Miller's latest work, I thought Foxcatcher would receive its best showing from the Screen Actors Guild. However, Oscar hopes for the creepy crime drama are slowly fading away.
Next, I'll set my focus on the Best Actor field. Steve Carell has kept his Oscar hopes alive with an inclusion on the list, but the biggest surprise has to be Nightcrawler's Jake Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal's performance was certainly worthy of recognition, but with a crowded competition many expected him to miss the cut. As for this outcome's Oscar effect, we need to keep in mind that many voters may not have had an opportunity to see the latest top-tier contender, Selma, which means David Oyelowo will most likely find his way into the final mix.
As expected in the Best Actress race, the top four contenders were basically set in stone and Jennifer Aniston (Cake) can breathe a sigh of relief as the fifth and final member of the field. Her Oscar hopes have been solidified and there's not much else to report from this competition.
With the Best Supporting Actor category there were also very few surprises. Similar to the Best Actress field, the top four were pretty much assumed. The last opening had a couple different names attached to it, but Robert Duvall (The Judge) took control of the position which will help his Oscar chances significantly.
Finally, in the Best Supporting Actress competition Naomi Watts (St. Vincent) proved to be the biggest surprise (and perhaps the biggest of all nominations). Barely anyone had Watts on their radar as a "serious" contender, but she still managed to sneak in. While this would normally help her odds at securing an Oscar nomination as well, it appears as though A Most Violent Year (much like Selma) hadn't been screened enough, meaning Jessica Chastain may have her number by the time the Academy Awards roll around.
Full List of Nominees
Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything
Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Jennifer Aniston (Cake), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods) and Naomi Watts (St. Vincent)