Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Five Cents: On SAG Vs The Hollywood Foreign Press Association...

This year the SAG nominations (the 18th annual for the award show) read a lot like a D-student copying off the smart kids' papers. With the exception of Jessica Lange for FX' American Horror Story and Patrick J. Adams for USA's Suits (seriously, everyone I know in this industry who has worked with this kid loves him so I feel like the nominations was for him as a person, not necessary the work on that little show that no one I know actually watches) all of the nominees were not only predictable but in fact an almost perfect mimic of "bigger" awards' shows past. Those two curveballs thrown in felt like the changes a D-student would make to his or her own Scantron test so it wasn't so obvious there was funny business going on. I mean, not that I would know from experience or anything. I was pretty much a B+/A- student throughout schooling.

Then again, maybe there's a reason why... Anyway, it is worrisome. The SAG Awards are supposed to be unique and interesting in design because for the one and only time actors are judged by their peers. Or are they? The numbers in SAG are staggering. I remember reading once than something ridiculous like less than one percent of SAG protected actors are actually the ones you would see working in consistent, large film and television roles. I have no idea if that was true at the time, or even if it's still true today, but somehow it seems about right. Those honored at these decadent, often ostentatious awards shows, certainly are the 1%. And in saying that, then how much of a peer-to-peer situation is it when someone who is still struggling to make ends meet, working odd jobs just to be able to go on auditions and have his or her big break has to choose between Alec Baldwin, Steve Carrell, and the Modern Family guys yet again? I'm not saying all actors are unethical or anything, but I wouldn't be dismayed to know the voters haven't actually seen much of what they're voting for and just go with what's comfortable, what's known, what's already the popular, "safe" choice. Actors, after all, want to be liked by many, and early on in their careers, they are told to conform to accepted standards and norms-- of beauty, of type, etc. I may be saddened by the same ole, same ole of the 18th Annual SAG Award nominations, but I'm not entirely surprised.

However, this morning the 69th Annual Golden Globe nominations were announced, and SAG is all but written off as irrelevant. The Golden Globes have always been known for having fun ceremonies (the celebrities can drink during!), colorful red carpets, and quirky nominations. But in all of my years of studying these awards shows, I have never been as caught off guard by a list of nominations as I was this year. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association may have started drinking early, and you know what? They're keeping me on my toes, and I kind of like it! I mean, sure there are some names on the ballots that I am completely WTF-ed by? Personally I don't see the appeal in Enlightened as a show. I feel like it's pretentious and off-putting, and at times I don't entirely believe it knows exactly what it wants its tone to be/its audience to think. But that being said, Laura Dern is amazing in it. On the flip side, I'm super surprised that Matt LeBlanc got nominated for Episodes-- partially because it was so long ago I didn't know how much it would be on people's voting brains-- but thrilled the show got the accolades, too, because that means Tamsin Greig is included, and even moreso than Joey Tribbiani, she had me consistently laughing out-loud with her dry humor and not-amused-by-Hollywood-bullshit.

I never, ever expected guilty pleasure Revenge to get anything come awards time. To me, it's the new Melrose Place, and that's not a dig because I truly loved and still miss Melrose Place (the original!). But Melrose Place knew what it was, and what it was was over the top. Madeleine Stowe, though great at it, is one such player in this game and this show. Pluck Victoria Grayson out of the Hamptons, and where else could you imagine her living? Maybe Wisteria Lane? But that's not "real," either. It's fascinating. My generation, who grew up addicted to shows like Melrose Place, are now covering the sh*t out of Revenge. It certainly evokes a sense of nostalgia just like the upcoming Dallas hopes, too. But there's a difference between reporters and critics, just like there's a difference between reporters and bloggers, and most of the few HFPA voters are still, um, older. So to see Revenge get this slightly more critical acclaim is an interesting tide to turn for television.

I love that there was no love lost for Dexter, though-- no sympathetic or nostalgic nomination. Award shows are supposed to consider just the body of work from the eligible voting period, not all that came before it. People getting "retroactive" awards is one of the worst epidemics (that happens much more at the Oscars than anywhere else). When Dexter is good, it is amazingly like nothing else on television, but when it's bad, as this current season is showing us, it is an abomination. It has that much farther to fall, sure, but I'm glad it's not getting cut some slack because everyone's afraid of the killer behind it.

Once again, there is an almost inexplicable USA nomination. I mean, I love me some Callie Thorne, but first of all, Necessary Roughness is one of those were dramedies that feels really awkward to put in a category up against heavy work like Homeland, The Killing, or even The Good Wife. If they wanted to honor her, maybe they should have considered selecting her work on Rescue Me? At times it leaned more towards comic relief, too, but her drunken wedding toast was one of the best things I've seen all year.

But that leads me to talk about Homeland. Because I told Damian Lewis his show would win all of the awards this year, and SAG made a liar out of me, but the Golden Globes is giving me a chance to redeem that promise. Well, all of the awards except Best Supporting Actress which should always go to Jessica Lange if she's an option. And with American Horror Story, she should always be an option this year. Although, I have to admit, she is seeming more and more like the female lead on the show, despite Connie Britton being advertised that way in the beginning, Who's the real lady of the house, after all, hmmm? But back to Homeland: seriously, this show is so, so intense and well-written and so much more than I ever expected from it. I know Breaking Bad is super strong and all, and I'm bummed that it didn't get a nomination, but if that helps Homeland's chances, then I'm actually not bummed at all. If this isn't just the tip of a gold iceberg dead ahead for Homeland, I will hang up this blog in protest*.

* Okay, I won't really hang up this blog, but I will turn it into a "1001 Reasons Why Homeland Is The Best Thing Ever" fan site, if need be! Don't do it, Academies! Don't threaten my professionalism!

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