EVERY VOTE COUNTS – One Man’s Ballot in the 2013 Screen Actors Guild Awards
Ever wonder how these awards are decided? Apparently, with a little help from one of us.
by Jason Luna
My name is Jason Luna. I won a million dollars on NBC’s 1 vs. 100 in 2008, and ever since I’ve been looking for new ways to explore opportunities as an actor. In 2012, while taking classes with the Groundlings improv troupe in Los Angeles and doing community theater in San Diego, I worked on a short film by Nicolas Simonin, Healer.
This film allowed me to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), which not only puts me in the most powerful and prominent acting union in America but it also allows me to vote an actual ballot in the SAG Awards.
So join me, if you will, as I break down an actual vote for the benefit of famous people. And the nominees are…!
NOTE: Try as hard as I might, I couldn’t see all applicable films and TV shows. I still can vote fairly well, but “N/A” means I didn’t see something.
[EDIT: Following the announcement of the Awards on January 27, we've inserted the winners. Jason... well, he wasn't entirely wrong. - Ed.]
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: Decent stunt work and superheroics. I did feel like there were a lot of odd side plots that detracted from the action, such as Bane’s rule over Gotham, or Batman in prison.
LES MISERABLES: A decent film, but no real stunt work. Some very nice surreal set design for battles and prison labor, though.
THE BOURNE LEGACY: There is some “Jeremy Renner can kick people super well” stuff, but this is mostly a governmental policy wonk-fest. So much talking about drug policy and political committees! I felt distracted from the action.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: Great action, and use of CGI. The climactic battle across the New York skyline is awards worthy.
SKYFALL: Such an impressive action odyssey. Multiple types of vehicles crash or are driven quickly. There are 3 major fight scenes that look cool and seem to resolve the story. Very impressive.
MY VOTE: Skyfall
TOMMY LEE JONES in Lincoln: Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, an animated abolitionist Republican House Leader, fighting to pass the 13th amendment, ending slavery. The performance was ok, but it tended to be all vitriol, with little nuance.
ROBERT DE NIRO in Silver Linings Playbook: De Niro plays the neurotic bookmaker father of an intensely bipolar young man. A solid performance, just not given the screen time needed to make it win for me.
JAVIER BARDEM in Skyfall: Bardem plays the effeminate/insane computer hacker Bond villain. One of the most charming villains of ever, I also felt like his combative nature hurt his ability to have a great award winning role.
ALAN ARKIN in Argo: Arkin plays the movie producer who is in on a plot to rescue hostages from Iran. Arkin, as always, is charming and hilarious. He could coast to my vote most years.
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN in The Master: Hoffman plays the titular “master” of a strange intellectual cult in the 1940s. Director Paul Thomas Anderson creates such an exciting world of moral and intellectual confusion, Hoffman’s world beater/loser easily wins my heart, let alone my vote.
MY VOTE: Philip Seymour Hoffman
WINNER: Tommy Lee Jones
NICOLE KIDMAN in The Paperboy: N/A
SALLY FIELD in Lincoln: As Mary Todd Lincoln, Abe’s troubled wife, Field was betrayed by bad writing. She’s crazy, so she yells a lot, or she’s a worried mom going against common sense, and she’s not around for the big moments. She deserved better.
HELEN HUNT in The Sessions: Hunt plays the sex therapist who has sex sessions with the paralyzed John Hawkes. She is slightly likable and seems like a nice character, but the movie seems to be gentle on characterization. One secondary storyline/pseudo domestic fight with Adam Arkin does not an award make.
ANNE HATHAWAY in Les Miserablés: Hathaway plays the much beleaguered old timey French prostitute whom Jean Valjean dedicates his life to. She did a solid job, mostly at looking in agony, and she can sing well (Russell Crowe cannot). She’s not in a lot of it, though.
MAGGIE SMITH in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: In a group of British retirees who move to India, Smith is the cantankerous/slightly racist one. She goes through some transformations along the way, and she really does a great job of looking like she has a hard time comprehending things.
MY VOTE: Maggie Smith
WINNER: Anne Hathaway
BRADLEY COOPER in Silver Linings Playbook: Cooper plays a bipolar aggressive guy putting his life back together. He doesn’t act so much as yell.
DENZEL WASHINGTON in Flight: Washington plays an alcoholic airline pilot who makes a brilliant crash landing, but hides the fact that he was drunk. The most reductionist movie of the year, Washington is made to act like he’s drunk, then yell a lot, leading up to a moralizing ending right out of a 12-step program.
HUGH JACKMAN in Les Miserablés: Jackman is Jean Valjean, the old timey French ex-con with a heart of gold. Jackman is always the likable protagonist, but I can’t honestly call the role much else than that.
JOHN HAWKES in The Sessions: Hawkes is a paralyzed guy who wants to have sex. He is adorable, but I also felt like he was a little more charm of “in that situation, I’d like a lot of people” than depth.
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS in Lincoln: Day-Lewis is Honest Abe himself. Bone weary, rambling but on point, philosophical and magnanimous, best acting all year.
MY VOTE: Daniel Day-Lewis
WINNER: Daniel Day-Lewis
HELEN MIRREN in Hitchcock: Decent performance, horrific movie. Mirren is Alfred Hitchcock’s wife. She is likable as she complains about the terrors surrounding Hitch’s lifestyle. But she is buried, among others, by Anthony Hopkins’s slurred Hitchcock. Or by Scarlett Johansson, impersonating Janet Leigh by talking like an androgynous robot.
JENNIFER LAWRENCE in Silver Linings Playbook: Lawrence is a bipolar woman who is sort of courted by the bipolar Bradley Cooper. She is a nice female lead, and she actually demonstrates strong reactions to the crap going on around her. I think the movie as a whole may just be too dumb for my tastes.
MARION COTILLARD in Rust and Bone: Cotillard plays a French sea world employee who loses her legs in a freak accident. She conveys her subtle struggle quite well, as she handles fake legs well on the outside, but has issues on the inside. Unfortunately, the movie dwells too much on her boyfriend, an ex-boxer turned street fighter with a son and a douche bag streak.
JESSICA CHASTAIN in Zero Dark Thirty: Chastain plays the CIA whiz kid who helps find Osama Bin Laden. She gives off some great anguish as the CIA male pigs reject her ideas at every turn. I think I just didn’t like the historical procedural layout that much.
NAOMI WATTS in The Impossible: Watts is the matriarch of a family hit by a tsunami in Thailand. Watts is amazing, getting brutally assaulted by the environment, and struggling to help her son deal with the fact that the rest of the family is probably dead. A “pushed to the limits” type of performance.
MY VOTE: Naomi Watts
WINNER: Jennifer Lawrence
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK: More of a cartoon of a drama than real acting, Bradley Cooper and Chris Tucker both act like clichés of insane and grifter,
ARGO: Not a bad movie, Arkin is great. It’s also an action movie. I say mediocre choice.
LES MISERABLES: I quite frankly didn’t get it, which is a shame. Such a big musical, with a decent plot, but it felt like it lingered more than it blew me away. Still, not terrible.
LINCOLN: It’s called Best Ensemble, not Best Picture. The team of Tim Blake Nelson, John Hawkes, and “James Spader feat. mustache” as vote wranglers is a revelation, and the movie is a fun yet hard hitting glimpse into “pre-post-bellum” America and Lincoln’s life/psyche. But with Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones in this film, it simply can’t win a “best group of acting” award.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL: Bill Nighy should’ve been nominated for best supporting actor, and that opinion demonstrates my attachment to this film. Tom Wilkinson has depth, Judi Dench has world weary soul, and Smith makes any civilized viewer squirm. What an odd and brilliant comedy.
MY VOTE: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Movie studios sent me DVDs, iTunes films, and I was still able to go and see most of these movies in theaters. TV studios didn’t give me jack squat. Which left me to guess on my votes in this section, a lot. If only Falling Skies would’ve been nominated for something…
But hey, random guessing means there’s still a chance I’m right. Hopefully. Here are my far more simplified votes for TV:
NOMINEES: Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones
MY VOTE: Game of Thrones.
WINNER: Game of Thrones
BEST ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE
NOMINEES: Woody Harrelson in Game Change, Ed Harris in Game Change, Clive Owen in Hemingway & Gellhorn, Bill Paxton in Hatfields and McCoys, Kevin Costner in Hatfields and McCoys.
MY VOTE: Kevin Costner
WINNER: Kevin Costner
BEST ACTRESS IN A TV MOVIE
NOMINEES: Nicole Kidman in Hemingway & Gellhorn, Alfre Woodard in Steel Magnolias, Sigourney Weaver in Political Animals, Charlotte Rampling in Restless, Julianne Moore in Game Change.
MY VOTE: Julianne Moore
WINNER: Julianne Moore
NOMINEES: Damian Lewis in Homeland, Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire, Jeff Daniels in The Newsroom, Jon Hamm in Mad Men.
MY VOTE: Jon Hamm
WINNER: Bryan Cranston
BEST ACTRESS IN A TV DRAMA
NOMINEES: Claire Danes in Homeland, Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife, Michelle Dockery in Downton Abbey, Maggie Smith in The Good Wife, Jessica Lange in American Horror Story: Asylum
MY VOTE: Jessica Lange
WINNER: Claire Danes
BEST ACTOR IN A TV COMEDY
NOMINEES: Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory, Louis C. K. in Louie, Eric Stonestreet in Modern Family, Ty Burrell in Modern Family, Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock
MY VOTE: Ty Burrell
WINNER: Alex Baldwin
BEST ACTRESS IN A TV COMEDY
NOMINEES: Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie, Betty White in Hot in Cleveland, Sofia Vergara in Modern Family, Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation, Tina Fey in 30 Rock
MY VOTE: Tina Fey
WINNER: Tina Fey
TV DRAMA ENSEMBLE
NOMINEES: Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Downton Abbey, Mad Men
MY VOTE: Mad Men
WINNER: Downton Abbey
NOMINEES: Nurse Jackie, Glee, The Office, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, 30 Rock
MY VOTE: 30 Rock
WINNER: Modern Family
Well, that’s my vote.
[Jason's votes coincided with the Guild as a whole 6 out of 15 times. A solid effort. - Ed.]
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