2018 SAG Awards Viewing Guide: Part 4 – TV Movie or Miniseries Awards

Last year, the Nominating Committee got it perfect, with brilliant performances recognized across the board in this area. This year? Not so much. Well, let’s say half and half.

That said, placing miniseries and TV movies together always seems slightly unfair. A series is a series. A ninety minute film is not. Perhaps that is why there is only ONE nomination from a stand-alone film this year (DeNiro). I usually end up going with the series in this category because the sample size is so much larger.

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Women

Okay, Nominating Committee….here we go again. Listen, “Big Little Lies” is fantastic and “Feud” is, well, juicy, but, really?! THREE nominations from one and two from the other?! Uh…did you even bother to see the following performances:

  • Carrie Coon from “Fargo”?
  • Sarah Gadon from “Alias Grace”?
  • Katherine Langford from “13 Reasons Why”
  • Helen McCrory from “Peaky Blinders”
  • Michelle Pfeiffer from “Wizard of Lies”
  • Michelle Dockery or Meritt Weaver from “Godless”?

Actually it’s a trick question, because I know you watched “Godless” and “Wizard”. And those performances are just off the top of my head. Listen, I’m not privy to what counts as a mini-series versus a drama – so maybe your choices were limited, but, come on. And the joke is the BEST performance in “Big Little Lies” might actually belong to Shailene Woodley, whom you DIDN’T nominate. We’re supposed to be rewarding the best of the best, and while you may disagree with who I think should be nominated, you can’t disagree that the optics of three and two are TERRIBLE. Okay…okay…on to the choices we’re stuck with:

Laura Dern – “Big Little Lies” (HBO)

Listen, every actor in the show is terrific, top to bottom. But Dern’s character is a supporting antagonist. She deserved the Globe. But given the list above, I’d have NO problem if she had been left out…even for Woodley.
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Nicole Kidman – “Big Little Lies” (HBO) (SHE GETS MY VOTE)

Well, no complaints here. Ms. Kidman has quite simply become one of the best actors working today. I may have grown weary of her relationship in “Big Little Lies”, but I never got tired of watching her do the work. Given what we have to choose from, she’ll get my vote.
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Jessica Lange – “Feud: Bette & Joan” (FX)

I don’t know what to say here. This campy piece went on way too long for me. Lots of scenery chewing and very little humanity, even within the context of a comedy, makes for a long slog. However, Lange fares better than Sarandon, so I understand her inclusion here. But, if I’m being honest, Chicago character actress, Jackie Hoffman, was the best thing in the show.
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Susan Sarandon – “Feud: Bette & Joan” (FX)

Yeah, see above, except I don’t think it was necessary to include both actors, except that she is a national treasure, and perhaps you can’t have one without the other. I could’ve lived without her here with Ms. Weaver in her stead.
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Reese Witherspoon – “Big Little Lies” (HBO)

Basically reprising her role from “Election”, Witherspoon is great. Really. But you’d have a hard time convincing me that she’s more deserving that Weaver, Dockery, Gadon, McRory or Coon. Nonetheless, not a terrible choice. But if we’re going to reward any actress from this show, it should be Kidman (since Woodley was ignored).
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Men

Benedict Cumberbatch – “Sherlock” (BBC)

Reprising his role a fourth “season”, Cumberbatch brings as much quality as he has since the show debuted back in 2010, making him a household name. The only issue is that this year, the show was so mired in a combination of quirk and strange, that most of what makes his Sherlock so lovable/mesmerizing was thrown by the wayside. Regardless, a worthy nominee, if not a deserving winner.
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Jeff Daniels – “Godless” (Netflix) (HE GETS MY VOTE)

Well, at least the terrific “Godless” made it in to the mix. Daniels is an utterly convincing bad guy in a genre that defines that title. The terror he wields needs nothing more than a look, and the script’s economy of words in no way hinders his powerful presence. For me it’s a tossup between him and Skarsgard.
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Robert DeNiro – “The Wizard of Lies (HBO)

This film is brutally morose. So is DeNiro’s Madoff. It’s a brilliant performance, but the writing just doesn’t allow enough room to be recognized as the best of the year, no matter how much effort Mr. DeNiro puts in to it. Nonetheless, I recommend you watch it.
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Geoffrey Rush – “Genius” (NatGeo)

Full disclosure, I tried like hell to get through this, but, with the exception of Rush and Emily Watson, the acting and writing are brutal. Nonetheless, I watched as much of his performance as I could, and found it to be a lovely interpretation of Einstein, but not much more. Not his fault as it’s a melodramatic bio-pic. But it’s not of the same quality as the rest of the nominees. It would have been nice to see Cillian Murphy or Paul Anderson get recognized for their brilliant work in “Peaky Blinders” in this spot.
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Alexander Skarsgard – “Big Little Lies” (HBO)

The best written and most fully performed of the male characters in “BLL”, Skarsgard is brilliant as a hopelessly flawed man who has everything. He’s also the most consistent and terrifying presence, especially given how sexy he is. We could do a lot worse than reward him with the statuette.

So that’s that. SAG voters, you have until Friday, 1/19 at noon PST to vote. Get to it!

Written on 1/15/2018

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