Michael C here to take stock of the performers left in the dust by the recent rush of precursors.
With the announcement of the Golden Globes and SAG nominations behind us the first round of the elaborate Kabuki dance known as Precursor Season is concluded. A week ago we could let our imaginations run wild with the possibilities of our favorite performances making good. Now if an actor hasn’t heard his or her name called by either group? Well, as George C. Scott once said to Peter Sellers, their chances have been quickly reduced to a very low order of probability.
So how low is low? What are the chances of a performance getting nominated without a Globe or SAG nomination?
Approximately 1 in 20. That's what my remarkably un-scientific research tells me. For this I took a look at the last 10 years. If you go back too far the stats become less relevant. Plus, 10 is a nice round number and if I wanted to do complicated math I wouldn’t be a movie blogger. So, 10 years = 200 nominated performances. and out of those only 12 failed to receive either a SAG or GG nod first. They are:
- Javier Bardem – Biutiful
- Tommy Lee Jones – In the Valley of Elah
- Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby
- Laura Linney – The Savages
- Samantha Morton – In America
- Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road
- Alan Alda – The Aviator
- Djimon Hounsou – In America
- William Hurt - A History of Violence
- Maggie Gyllenhaal – Crazy Heart
- Marcia Gay Harden – Mystic River
- Shohreh Aghdashloo – House of Sand and Fog
12 out of 200 is 6% meaning roughly 1 in 20, or about one a year on average. So contenders have their work cut out for them, or at least their publicists do, if they want to get a ninth inning rally going.
How to best spot those contenders that are flying under the radar? I admit this might be a Beautiful Mind-like exercise in finding patterns where none exist, but here are the lessons I can draw from recent history, plus the 2011 contenders who may benefit:
5 out of 7 of the surprise supporting nominations were for films that also landed nominations in the lead categories, and one of them - Michael Shannon - came close. Only Tommy Lee Jones represented his film’s sole nomination so you need the film to do some of the work for you.
Advantage: Carey Mulligan, Ezra Miller, Judy Greer
None of the surprise names in the lead categories were receiving their first nomination. In the big categories don't underestimate the proven vote-getters.
Advantage: Woody Harrelson, Ryan Gosling, Michael Shannon
A few of these unexpected names were the result of a slot opening up when supporting contenders like Kate Winslet jumped to lead.
Advantage: Nobody. Category placement seems pretty solid this year, no?
Of the 12 curveball nominations listed above only 3 (Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt and Tommy Lee Jones) were from films released prior to Thanksgiving, and none were released prior to September. Once voters get to the bottom of those screeners currently piling up next to the TV there is bound to be a late-breaking favorite or two.
Advantage: Gary Oldman, Max Von Sydow, Patton Oswalt
Of course, when all is said and done it doesn’t hurt to deliver a performance that absolutely tears the house down. I can recall the impact in the theater when Michael Shannon tore through his brief screen time in Revolutionary Road like a wild animal. When that kind of electricity is coming off the screen prognosticators can be forgiven for keeping that person in their predictions no matter what the odds.
Advantage: Vanessa Redgrave, Oliva Colman, Andy Serkis
So if you want to keep rooting for your favorite underdog, there's your sliver of hope. And personally, I think I will keep on clinging to my hopes of a groundswell for Bruce Greenwood's performance in Meek's Cutoff regardless of any logic to the contrary.