Strong British presence at SAG nominations dominated by Birdman
British stars are well represented among the nominations for the awards which best predict the acting Oscars, the Screen Actors Guild.
Benedict Cumberbatch will be in the running for the best actor prize for his portrayal of the Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. He’ll be up against Eddie Redmayne, who plays the cosmologist Stephen Hawking in the upcoming The Theory of Everything. The American contenders they’ll be up against are Jake Gyllenhaal as a freelance news cameraman in Nightcrawler, Steve Carell in as millionaire wrestling coach in Foxcatcher and Michael Keaton as an actor in Birdman. Another British actor who was hotly tipped for awards, earlier in the year, has missed out on a nomination; Timothy Spall, who played the painter JMW Turner in Mike Leigh’s eponymous biopic won the corresponding prize in Cannes but seems to have fallen out of favour as the year has gone on.
There are also two British women in the running for the top female award. Redmayne’s co-star in The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones, plays the Stephen Hawking’s first wife Jane, who wrote the book the film is based on. She’s up against Rosamund Pike, for her lead role in Gone Girl. The British pair have stiff competition from Julianne Moore for Still Alice, Reese Witherspoon in Wild and a rare dramatic role from Jennifer Aniston, in Cake.
Cumberbatch’s co-star from The Imitation Game, Keira Knightley, also finds herself with a nomination, in the best supporting actress category. She’s up against Boyhood‘s Patricia Arquette, Birdman’s Emma Stone, Naomi Watts for St Vincent and awards-favourite Meryl Streep, who plays the witch in Into The Woods.
Those in competition for the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role are Birdman’s Edward Norton, Boyhood’s Ethan Hawke, Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher, Robert Duvall for The Judge and some overdue awards recognition for JK Simmons, for his role in the upcoming Whiplash.
SAG’s equivalent of the Best Picture prize, the award honouring the best overall cast, will be fought out by the previously mentioned Birdman, Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game – joined by Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The awards will be handed out at a ceremony in Los Angeles on 25th January. With actors making up the largest industry grouping within the Academy that will be handing out the Oscars the following month, the SAG awards are seen as among the more reliable predictors in a sea of ceremonies over the coming weeks.