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SAG Award Nominations Set A New Standard For Diversity

Chadwick Boseman (playing trumpet) and Viola Davis each received SAG Award nominations in lead actor categories for their roles in the Netflix film, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." (David Lee/Netflix)
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A year ago, Academy Award voters selected just one non-white performer (Cynthia Erivo of "Harriet") among its 20 acting nominees. Let's hope that Thursday's Screen Actors Guild Award picks can help correct the course for this year's Oscars.

Outside of the membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the voters for the SAG Awards reflect the opinions of the most authoritative bloc of working professionals. Actors also make up the largest voting group for the academy, so the SAG nominations often predict what the Oscars will do.

And this year, the SAG selections feature the most diverse array of movies ever nominated for the guild's top prize: Best Ensemble.

SAG's equivalent of the best picture Oscar includes four films anchored by non-white casts: "Minari," "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "One Night in Miami" and "Da 5 Bloods." The other best ensemble pick went to "The Trial of the Chicago Seven," which includes several prominent Black actors.

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The SAG nominating committee also recognized the work of the late Chadwick Boseman in two separate acting categories, in addition to his ensemble work in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and "Da 5 Bloods." What's more, SAG singled out the work of a comparatively significant ” but still inadequate ” number of non-white performers in both film and television.

Besides Boseman's role in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," the nominations for outstanding performance by a lead male actor include:

  • Riz Ahmed ("Sound of Metal")
  • Anthony Hopkins ("The Father")
  • Gary Oldman ("Mank")
  • Steven Yeun ("Minari")

SAG's lead female actor picks are

  • Amy Adams ("Hillbilly Elegy")
  • Viola Davis ("Ma Rainey's Black Bottom")
  • Vanessa Kirby ("Pieces of a Woman")
  • Frances McDormand "Nomadland"
  • Carey Mulligan ("Promising Young Woman")

The one notable slight in the best ensemble race was "Nomadland." It was likely snubbed because most of its cast, besides Frances McDormand and David Straitharn, are non-professional actors.

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