Tuesday, January 3, 2012

There's a first time for everything, right?

In reviewing how well Michael Fassbender has done in the past 4 weeks with half a dozen critical award wins for his role in Shame. There has been something nagging in the back of my mind since this SAG snub, and hence my tweeted question above that @GeminiNotTwin kindly answered. I've never been fond of the SAGs, but that is not to say that they are not relevant. A lot of my fellow bloggers loathe the Golden Globes for instance, but I like them. And when it comes down to marketing, on this side of the pond, at the end of the day, if a performer wins a Golden Globe and/or an Oscar, those are the two awards that are used for bragging rights. However, we still cannot dismiss the precursor factor of the SAG awards, and that's why it was so alarming to many at first, for Michael Fassbender, of all talked about actors on the awards circuit, to be snubbed, and instead, an actor who has not been a major player in weeks prior, filled the nomination spot that presumably would have been Fassbender's.

I went to wikipedia to find a brief historical statement about SAG, and this is what I found... try very hard to ignore the irony of the description of the award that is bestowed to the winners (sarcasm):
Michael has a SAG already for Best Ensemble for 'Inglorious Basterds' 2010
A Screen Actors Guild Award is an accolade given by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) to recognize outstanding performances by its members. The statuette given, a nude male figure holding both a mask of comedy and a mask of tragedy, is called "The Actor".[1] It is 16 inches tall, weighs over 12 pounds, cast in solid bronze, and produced by the American Fine Arts Foundry in Burbank, California.[2]
SAG Awards have been one of the major awards events in Hollywood since 1995. Nominations for the awards come from 4200 randomly selected members of the union, with the full membership (120,000 as of 2007) available to vote for the winners. The awards have been televised for the past several years on TNT, but now also airs on TBS.

I remember when the SAGs first aired and I was like, 'Another awards show? Yawn'. However in the two decades it has been broadcast, the studios have had a vested interest in the outcome of this ceremony because in many times, strong support here helps at the Oscars - but not always. This is a case of grab as many top nominations and honors as possible, so again, that's why this snub against Michael is of concern. When Lisa told me about the Golden Globe nom and the SAG snub in London, I remember saying, 'Well, I'm just glad he got the GG nom at least!' Had the nomination outcome been reversed, I would have been doubly perplexed. Historically, the establishment of the top awards are as follows: Oscars (1929), Golden Globes (1944), and BAFTA (1947). To many people, these three are the ones that matter. But, being acknowledged by SAG allows a contender to feel more... shall I say, comfortable.

The Screen Actors Guild is SAG, the union that all performers belong to. An actor/actress cannot work on a Hollywood production without a SAG card. Period. The nominations are created by a fraction of the entire membership base, whereby then the whole membership is eligible to vote in the final voting process. This in of itself is why it is of concern that fellow actors did not find anything worthy of Michael's unique, demanding, and brave performance to nominate him. The saving grace is his Best Actor win from the LA film critics association (LAFCA), but he also needed to win others, which he did, and is still winning them as of today.

Like many people have said, every year, so many quality performances are "snubbed", which is a term often misused when even a favorite actor who truly is not a contender is not nominated. But in this case, and with all my personal bias removed, this is a text book definition of a snub! I am hopeful that SAG will look silly from this exceptional case as Michael goes on to win the Golden Globe (fingers crossed), and be nominated for the BAFTA and Oscar - leaving SAG Fassbenderless, and hundreds of thousands of Fassbender fans opting to not watch the SAGs. Why should we? What's in it for us? I'm sure I will be writing a paper for class that night anyway.

The film industry has used the naked female form so often and for so long, that when audiences see a naked male, fully unclothed like a female has been served to us all this time, everything comes to a stand still. Some people are shocked, uncomfortable, embarrassed, or harshly and unfairly critical of the male nudity. The film is branded NC17, the film can only play at select theaters in select cities/regions of the country, no talk show appearances for said actor (a huge PR activity to put a face to a name - this opportunity has been denied to Michael!) - the double standard is shocking, disgusting, and truly, a damn shame! What concerns me is that BECAUSE of his nudity, and him being in a film that has been rated NC17 because of simulated sexual situations (key word 'simulated" - not real, if it were real, it would be porn!) the film is being out rightly dismissed because it is not wholly audience friendly. I read a comment somewhere on the internet that kind of makes sense about the psyche of the audience as well as critics and the film industry; In Shame, the nudity is REAL, that is his penis. When someone is being murdered or raped in an R rated film, like 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', that is NOT REAL, the actress/actor is not really being harmed, it's all pretend - but some audience members have great difficulty separating the realness of a person's nudity being used to bring to life a fictional character, from real actors using props to bring to life a criminal activity in the life of their fictional character. Why does male nudity hold more weight and cynicism in a film than a gross act of violence in film? Would Buddha know the answer to this question?

So going back to my tweeted question, I believe there is a first time for everything. Since no actor who has gone on to win the Oscar, was also nominated for a SAG, I feel it's perfectly fine to still believe that if Michael is actually nominated for an Oscar, to keep hope alive that he could be the first actor to win it, WITHOUT the help of a SAG nom. Wouldn't that be just desserts? I've never been one of those fence-sitters who say, 'Oh he/she will get nominated, but they ain't winning. The nomination is their reward.' Bullshit! No guts, no glory! We're in for the win!

In the end, even if Michael Fassbender does not have the opportunity to walk upon a stage in the coming seven weeks to accept top industry awards for his performance in Shame, he has won some beautiful praise, collected wonderful honors, and has seen his profile and bankability rise to heights that will make him the envy of his peers. If Michael doesn't win the big ones this time around for Shame, he and his fans should still be proud of the accomplishments he has made from this one career changing role, and one day, Michael will be at a lost as to where in the hell to put his Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and even, a Best Actor SAG on his mantle.


Anonymous said...

I've never been one of those fence-sitters who say, 'Oh he/she will get nominated, but they ain't winning. The nomination is their reward.' Bullshit! No guts, no glory! We're in for the win!

I completely understand what you're saying, but on the other hand, an Oscar nomination would look GREAT to the industry at this critical stage of infancy in his career. It would really be a lot better for his resume than no nomination at all. In fact, I'm almost afraid that a win would be detrimental (ie: peaking too soon) ala Adrien Brody.

Simone said...

I hear you loud a clear. A nomination alone would just be wonderful. An actual win at this stage would not hurt him... Adrien Brody does not have the complete package that Michael possesses, that's why he peaked and then faded away. That's the major difference between them, and Michael is very smart and particular about the projects he takes on. And he also has Steve McQueen on his side.

Anonymous said...

My feeling is that while Oscar is a wonderful honor, ultimately, it's become a popularity contest, decided by whichever studio has the most money to throw behind a campaign(I.e., Harvey Weinstein). And the voting branch is so out of touch; they need to keep inviting in more young actors to get more diversity. And their are man, many great artists out there who have never one an Oscar.
That said, the fact both SAG (whose membership pretty much mimics the Academy actors' voting block) and Indie Spirits overlooked Micheal's work is alarming to me. I've heard rumors that Fox Searchlight has been stingy with SHAME screeners, which makes me fear it's a bit of sabotage on rehire part to ensure Clooney and The Descendants (which will ultimately bring them in more $) land on top in nods and awards.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous worrying about the Independent Spirit Awards: Michael wasn't even eligible for Best Actor because Shame was submitted (and nominated as) a foreign film because it has British financial backing.

Michael has an LAFCA win, an OFCA win, a Volpi Cup win, a Golden Satellite nomination, BFCA nomination, a Golden Globe nomination. The SAG snub is nothing to dismiss, but on the other hand, there is no clear choice to take his 5th slot: Shannon, Gosling, Bichir and Oldman are all equally as (un)likely and lacking in most major precursors. One thing to take note of: all December films fared badly at the SAGs, and Bichir benefitted from early screeners of his film being sent to the (2000 out of nearly 100,000) members who voted.

And lets not start with The Descendants/Clooney conspiracy theories. FOX Searchlight has barely had to lift a finger to campaign for him. The statue is his to lose.

Simone said...

I have not seen The Descendents yet, and to be honest, it's not immediately on my must see list. Like a lot of films, I will netflix it. So many people are so enamoured by Clooney, he doesn't have to do anything to get votes. He has Hollywood in his back pocket, he knows how to play them all. He has his own obvious game going on, and it's a joke, but... he's George Clooney. I don't know if the Oscar is his to loose... there are too many other performances this year, with Fassbender removed from the equation, that deserve their first career Oscar. It would be cruel to see George win a second one so soon after winning his first for Syriana in 2006 while others go empty handed.

Anonymous said...

Re: DVD screener talk. Shame was sent to voting AMPAS members on December 23rd via UPS, the Descendants on December 2nd. Weinstein Company sent The Artist via UPS on December 29th and it is a best picture front runner.

There is no doubt that Clooney and Pitt are the two titans to beat for the Oscar statue, but I actually think Fassbender has a better chance to come up the middle than Dujardin. He stands to benefit more from the AMPAS preferential voting system.

Carmen said...

Simone! im agree with you, and all you said. And i think he deserves. He is a terrific, really i love him obviously but im really fan of him. Any movie that i see he surprised more and more.
I have not yet had the opportunity to see Shame but im sure they did a great job. And Anonymous you right, Fox has barely had to lift a finger to campaign for him.
the well with their work even win the nomination at the Golden Globes and I am sure also for oscar!
and want it to be January 15! I really wish that he win! Because he deserves!

dshultz said...

Simone, everything you just said I agree with 100%, but I have a question: Ok, so Michael right now has both Shame AND A Dangerous Method out in theaters right now, why can't he get onto a talk show to talk about ADM, but also talk about Shame? Or can he get onto no talk show because Shame, regardless which film they say they'll be discussing?

Anonymous said...

dshultz: the last thing Michael wants right now is for there to be any kind of confusion over which film he's campaigning for. In fact, the biggest hurdle for both Jessica Chastain and Ryan Gosling this season is that neither of them have a clear, single role they're gunning for.
Michael could go on a talk show for ADM, but they'll show a promotional clip for that film and not Shame. It could serve to dilute the singular focus on Shame more than anything else.
FOX Searchlight's campaign has really been outstanding so far, IMHO. His print interviews/mag covers have been exceptional and they've done a marvelous job at setting and maintaining a narrative of his "inevitability". Perception is all that matters in this business.

Anonymous said...

Marcia Gay Harden won best Supporting Actress
for "Pollock", and wasent nominated for a SAG for that role...

Simone said...

@ Anons 12:04 & 3:49, thank you very much for your valid points and great information!

emmy said...

Simone, thank you for this wonderful post !!!! And I completely agree with you !!! =)
Finger crossed for MICHAEL !!!! =)

Dionne said...

I'm not a fence sitter but realistically, it will be a miracle if he even gets an Oscar nomination!

Anonymous said...

I think, despite his terrific performance, it would be too soon for him to win the oscar... that's been lately a shadow of bad luck for actors (for example halle berry.. where is she now?)... Anyway it's clearly the best male performance of the year.. i don't think he has so hard competence for the roles that will get a nomination... but there will be actors like dicaprio who have been waiting a couple of years to win it... although their performances this year haven't been that good... But you know, it's the oscars.. Nolan didn't get the nomination for the dark knight...that was like a kick between the legs.. he clearly deserved it. But don't be afraid, i'm pretty sure fass will be nominated hopefully for the next years for great roles to come. Saludos from Spain!

Anonymous said...

Dionne: if it were for role that wasn't from an NC-17 film, I think most pundits would have his nomination as a "lock" at this point. Clooney has 6 critics award wins, but Michael is 2nd with 5, including the prestigious LAFCA. This is in addition to a Volpi Cup, a BIFA win, and nominations for virtually every precursor he was eligible for EXCEPT the SAGs. The only "silver lining" in that snub is the fact that the actor who replaced him (Bichir) has literally zero precursor support anywhere else, critics awards or televised awards. There is no clear, singular threat on Michael's heels. That's why I wouldn't call his chances of being nominated a "miracle".

Dionne said...

@ Anon I just re-read my previous post and I meant to say "it would be a miracle if he WON", not if he was nominated! I do think it is very likely that he will be nominated!

Lisa said...

I am beginning to wonder what the reaction is going to be if that Oscar nomination doesn’t materialise…gnashing of teeth, kicking the dog, crying into our pillows or drowning our sorrows in enormous vats of beer??! Whatever decision the Academy reaches, Michael’s performance in Shame is already regarded as one of the most remarkable anyone is going to witness this year. Every accolade he’s received to date is already testament to that. As such, I don’t think we have to worry too much about the SAG ‘snub’ or this process having to follow a set pattern to succeed. I, for one, believe the Academy members are more than capable of making their own minds up without having to follow anyone else’s lead. Being an artist, Steve McQueen quite rightly chooses to convey his vision unimpeded by some of the boundaries other film-makers may feel obligated to work within, and I think there will be brave people within the fraternity who will judge Shame on all its merits honouring and respecting that vision.

Also, much as I want to see Michael take home the big awards (and I’m sure he will), I don’t believe he actually ‘needs’ an Oscar nomination to gain bragging rights or boost his career. The reality is he’s already doing extremely well without it! Whether a nomination is pending or not, he already has the attention, respect and admiration of those who matter most. Right now he is working with the best, and the best are queuing up to work with him. This year alone, Steven Soderbergh, Steve McQueen, David Cronenberg, and… (let’s all bow down now in homage…) the great Sir Ridley Scott, have all had their opportunity. Michael’s now on the threshold of bigger and better things and we can be assured there will be many more remarkable and potentially Oscar-worthy performances from him. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Academy will choose to recognise him with a nomination this year, or even a win. If they do, we’ll all be ecstatic! If they don’t, let’s not get too upset by it. Whatever their decision, it doesn’t change the fact that Michael is one of the most authentic, versatile, fearless, emotionally intelligent and talented actors on the planet...and yes, he’s also very handsome! That’s what gives him such presence and charisma, and that’s what makes him a star. No statuette, however prestigious or golden, can better that.

Simone said...

Hey Lisa, I think there will be a mixture of reactions from the fanbase if he is not nominated. I really enjoyed what you wrote and we're pretty much on the same page. I've just been following the Oscars for over 20 years, so it is a habit to get a little emotionally riled up when favorite performances and films aren't given the award respect I think it deserves.

The academy is very political, so I can't given them as much sympathy and leeway that you kindly do - as I recall so many amazingly bizarre things they have done. But, it is what it is, and you're right, with or without an Oscar, Michael is well on his way to having a remarkable career. Thanks!

MLM said...

I think that a week after the Oscar telecast, whether Michael was in the audience as a nominee or not will be old news. Sure an Oscar win or nomination will be the icing on a cake to top off an amazing year, but that's about it for me. I don't think an Oscar statue will make me respect Michael anymore than I already do. In any case, awards are the least interesting thing about Michael or any other actor I love. As a movie fanatic, I care about the performance and work. I want to be transported by a performance, and Michael has been delivering the goods for a long time.

It's gratifying that the best and most interesting filmmakers are lining up to work with him. That's all I care about, and I bet you that's all Michael cares about at the end of the day. His favorite actor, Marlon Brando, rejected the Oscar in 1972 for "The Godfather", as did George C. Scott the prior year for "Patton". These two acting geniuses knew that a lot of back-slapping happens at award shows, and that wasn't for them.

Simone said...

I agree with your comments 110% MLM, and you're right, Michael's favorite actors don't have Oscars, and that award in reality, is just a hunk of metal that the industry has placed a value upon.

An award will not make or break Michael... it's just fun when he does win them.