Congrats to all of the nominees!!

2012 SAG Award nominations shake up Oscar forecasts

LOS ANGELES – The Screen Actors Guild Award nominations managed to clear and muddy the Oscar picture in one fell swoop Wednesday.

As expected, The Help and The Artist established themselves as Oscar front-runners.
But the Hollywood union’s inclusion of box office hits and comedies — and snub of some heavyweights — had analysts scrambling to rewrite forecasts. Perhaps the biggest surprise: The raunchy Judd Apatow-produced comedy Bridesmaids was nominated for best performance by a cast (SAG’s version of best picture).

The nominations were “unusually comedy-heavy,” says Guy Lodge of the entertainment site Lodge says the choices “suggest voters were in one of their moods” to recognize their favorite work, not Oscar bait.

The Help, the Disney best-seller adaptation, led all movies with four nominations, followed by the silent throwback film The Artist with three. The Help landed a best actress nomination for Viola Davis and supporting actress nominations for Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer.

The Artist continues to clean up among critics and voters. Along with its best picture nod, it earned a lead actor nomination for Jean Dujardin and a supporting actress nomination for Bérénice Bejo. Other lead actors: George Clooney for The Descendants, Demián Bichir for A Better Life, Leonardo DiCaprio for J. Edgar and Brad Pitt for Moneyball.

The surprise of the category, says Entertainment Weekly’s Dave Karger, is A Better Life’s Bichir. “Maybe this nomination will lead more academy members to watch” Bichir’s little-seen immigrant drama.

Among actresses, Michelle Williams of My Week With Marilyn will face Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis (The Help), Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), a surprise recognition. “Glenn Close needed this nomination to stay in the (Oscar) race,” Karger says. “And she got it.”

In addition to The Help and The Artist, best picture nominees include Bridesmaids, George Clooney’s The Descendants and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. “No film has won best picture without a SAG nomination in 15 years,” Karger notes. “Which isn’t a great sign for Hugo,” Martin Scorsese’s 3-D family film.

Some notable performances went unnoticed, including Charlize Theron for Young Adult, Michael Fassbender for Shame, Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Albert Brooks for Drive.

The biggest surprise was the success of Bridesmaids, a comedy critics and audiences have been embracing since its release May 13. The movie has brought in $169 million domestically and earned Melissa McCarthy a nomination for supporting actress.

J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood’s biography on the FBI founder, had a good morning, as well. In addition to DiCaprio’s nomination, Armie Hammer nabbed a supporting actor nomination — solid support for a movie blasted by critics and that was a middling box office performer at $35 million. Lodge says the nominations put J. Edgar “very much in the (Oscar) hunt, after seemingly slipping a bit since his (Eastwood) film’s indifferently received release.”

While not as recognized as the Oscars, the SAG awards are typically one of Oscar’s most accurate forecasters. Last year, 17 of the 20 nominees for SAG honors went on to hook Oscar nominations.

The SAG awards are Jan. 28 in Los Angeles.