SAG Awards Voters’ Guide: Chadwick Boseman, ‘Cobra Kai,’ ‘Bridgerton’ and More

Danielle Turchiano and Jenelle Riley
·6-min read

Guild awards season is officially underway.

The 27th annual SAG Awards nominations are proving to still be a good indicator of how things may shake out at the upcoming Academy Awards. In many ways, the same can be said for the television series and talent that broke onto this ballot after having its first go at awards this winter season, too.

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Ahead of the ceremony on April 4, Variety breaks down some of the bigger categories, as well as trends and unique tidbits about this year’s nominee pool.

Ensembles by the Numbers
With both “Da 5 Bloods” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” landing on the ballot for ensemble, there is almost a titular digit trend in the race. But what’s also notable about these lm nominees is how compact the casts are. “One Night in Miami” is essentially four actors in a hotel room for a large part of the film’s running time, “Minari” focuses primarily on one family in Arkansas and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is a group of musicians in a sweltering recording studio. In the past, sprawling casts have sometimes been seen as having an advantage, but this year proves that when perfectly put together, the size of the ensemble is irrelevant.

Few Series Make the Cut
If the individual acting categories on the small screen side of the ballot are any indication, this year SAG voters only seemed to watch a handful of shows. Most obviously among them were Netflix’s “The Crown,” “Ozark” and “Dead to Me,” as well as Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek.” “The Crown” not only snatched up its fourth drama series ensemble nom and a male drama actor nom for Josh O’Connor, but it also dominated the female drama actor category, with Olivia Colman, Emma Corrin and Gillian Anderson taking three of the five slots. The other two noms in that category went to “Ozark’s” Laura Linney and Julia Garner. “Ozark” also picked up a drama series ensemble nom and a male drama actor nom, for Jason Bateman. Meanwhile, “Dead to Me” picked up a comedy series ensemble nom and two female comedy actor noms, for Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini. “Schitt’s Creek” pulled in a comedy series ensemble nom, two more female comedy actor noms (for Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy) and two male comedy actor noms (for co-creators Eugene and Daniel Levy).

Taking the Lead
The male actor in a leading lm role race features one previous SAG Award winner in this category — Gary Oldman (“Mank”) won for “Darkest Hour” in 2018 — and three first-time nominees to the category: Steven Yeun (“Minari”) lands his first SAG nom, while Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) was nominated for the limited series “The Night Of ” and the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) already won for the “Black Panther” ensemble. As for the fifth nominee, it’s hard to believe, but Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”) has never won a SAG Award, despite six previous nominations. In case you’re wondering, the awards didn’t exist the year he won the Oscar for “Silence of the Lambs.”

Always Some Surprises
The female actor in a leading film role category mostly went as expected, with Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”), Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) and Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) all landing nominations. The fifth slot, which could have gone in several directions including Zendaya (“Malcolm & Marie”), Michelle Pfeiffer (“French Exit”) or Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), instead went to Amy Adams of “Hillbilly Elegy,” marking her 10th SAG Award nomination.

Benefitting From Eligibility Extension
Normally a calendar year denotes the SAG Awards’ in-contention ability, but because the ongoing pandemic has caused so many production pauses and theater closures, the window was widened to allow projects that were released between Jan. 1, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021, to be included. This was good news for “Cobra Kai,” which dropped its third season on Jan. 1. “The Karate Kid” franchise continuation project now has its first-ever stunt ensemble nomination. The third season was also the first for it as a Net ix original, after YouTube Premiere got out of the scripted game.

Big Breakouts in Supporting
The female supporting actor category is notable for two reasons: first, it’s another showdown between Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”) and Olivia Colman (“The Father”). But also, the remaining three nominees are all making their American film debuts: Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Movie lm”) and Helena Zengel (“News of the World”) have credits in Bulgaria and Germany, respectively, but launched their Hollywood careers with showy roles opposite big stars. (They were also both named to Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch for 2020.) And “Minari” actor Youn Yuh Jung, often considered the Meryl Streep of South Korea, makes her American movie debut at the age of 73.

Category Confusion?
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” already snatched up a slew of Tonys, but now that a filmed version of the stage play has been released on streaming it is going for more glory. It entered into the film races at the Golden Globes (and picked up two noms there, for musical or comedy film, and for Miranda in that same category’s lead actor race), but for SAG it went the small-screen route. This resulted in only one nomination from SAG voters — for Daveed Diggs in the male limited series/TV movie actor category. Following SAG, “Hamilton” will continue to compete on television awards ballots, eventually becoming an Emmy, not an Oscar, hopeful.

Ensemble Standouts in Supporting
All the supporting male actor nominees are the sole nominees from their ensembles. Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”), Boseman (“Da 5 Bloods”) and Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”) were individually nominated here and also received nods for their work in ensembles. (Boseman also has two more noms for ensemble and his lead turn in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”) Daniel Kaluuya was singled out of the wonderful “Judas and the Black Messiah” cast, while Jared Leto is the sole nominee from “The Little Things,” in which he co-starred with fellow Oscar winners Rami Malek and Denzel Washington.

Back in the Race
Shondaland is known for producing sprawling ensemble dramas, but before “Bridgerton” broke onto the ballot this year, the last time one of shingle’s shows was nominated in the SAG drama series ensemble race was in 2008 (“Grey’s Anatomy”). “Bridgerton,” Shondaland’s first scripted show for Netflix, is an adaptation of the first book in Julia Quinn’s Regency era set novel series and features not only a big cast of various members of the titular family, as well as their friends in the Featherington family and various potential romantic matches and political foes and allies, but also a global cast. Regé-Jean Page also earned an individual male drama actor nom this year.

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