I have not seen everything that is nominated and I will vote online tomorrow. This year I was sent 5 excellent DVD's of nominated films to review "for my consideration". For anyone who is not a member or who has never received one of these, often "For Your Consideration" scrolls across the screen at odd moments during the film. This is so you cannot sell it, or so people will know that you should not have sold it or given it away. No worries here, though, because I want to save my copies for my own library.
SAG Awards are for actors and stunt performers, so excellent acting outweighs story and general quality of the film.
I'll start with the ensemble films:
JULIE & JULIA - I loved this film and all of the performances. This was a delightful, upbeat film filled with gorgeous scenes of Paris. It was easy to follow. I went out and bought a Julia Child cookbook and began upgrading my culinary technique. I love Amy Adams, although her character was a tad whiny. Meryl Streep is always excellent. Stanley Tucci and Jane Lynch added their usual flair. I highly recommend this film when you need a lift.
NINE - I'm a musical theatre geek so of course I loved this one. I've learned from past experience that Hollywood doesn't seem to know how to hire real singers and dancers so I was prepared for mediocrity. The production values were through the roof, which is how I like my movie musicals. It was eye candy, indeed, with tons of sparkle and splash. I would have cast it differently, but they didn't want my input. It was fun to watch Kate Hudson and Penelope Cruz's numbers, Fergie was quite entertaining. Why Hollywood hasn't learned that Nicole Kidman is not a musical theatre performer by now, I don't know, did they forget "MOULIN ROUGE"?
AN EDUCATION - this was a quiet film. I saw it before the DVD arrived in the mail. It was a time filler and not much more for me. Just OK.
INGLORIOUS BASTERDS - This was an original idea. It took me to a place I didn't expect to go. That place is the side of the sadistic torturers. Brad Pitt actually was a likable hillbilly sadist who got off on torture. His character is no better than Christoph Waltz's Nazi, and yet you cheer one and boo the other. This was a thoroughly entertaining film that I watched with my teenage nephew. It had story, irony, drama, excellent characters, comedy and some unexpected choices. If you can stomach the violence and gore, and there is plenty of each, then I recommend it.
PRECIOUS - I read the book years ago when I was a social worker at a foster care agency in Harlem. It's a sad, sad film. This was an acting stretch for all of the principal actors. I met people like these characters when I worked as a social worker doing assessments of children entering foster care, assessments included their birth parents and foster parents. One thing I learned in the real world that differs greatly from the acting world is that people are much more understated, flat and calm in real life. People are under the radar because they make themselves invisible.
I didn't see the HURT LOCKER so it can't get my opinion.
Now films with Lead or Supporting Male and Female Actor categories:
I won't mention films previously reviewed by me in this blog.
UP IN THE AIR - Kind of depressing film when I give it some thought. It starts off one way and then switches directions several times. These characters lead sterile, cold lives rarely connecting with anyone outside of their little "travel world". Performances were perfect for this film. I like more heart in my films, though.
INVICTUS - Now this film is filled with heart. You've seen it before, many times. I'm a sucker for the underdog with the big heart that we all want to win. I also finally see some principal actors of color in this one, as well as experiencing another culture. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No surprises, but that's ok sometimes.
A SINGLE MAN - A slow-moving sad and quiet film. Julianne Moore seemed to be going for the Elizabeth Taylor in "...VIRGINIA WOOLF" award. I'm sure some people loved her performance, but I didn't. I'm told that, as usual, if you read the book then the film was a disappointment. Colin Firth is always excellent although he played a little against his usual type in this film. It's the story of a grieving man, frozen without his lover.
THE BLIND SIDE - OK, so this is my kind of tear jerker film. Once again rooting for the underdog to win. It's also a bit of a "chick flick" with the fabulous house and easy solutions. Oh great white mother who saves the poor black child. There were some surprises and choices that I thought worked.
STAR TREK - It was action packed, exciting and funny. I cared about the characters and I could follow the story. Stunt folks had plenty to do in this film.
PUBLIC ENEMY - I saw this film earlier in the year, and can't remember a thing.
I always feel guilty about the miniseries category because I generally miss most of them. This means I have to either abstain or guess vote.
Primetime TV is a whole other story because I watch much too much TV and have an opinion about most of the shows.
Stunt ensemble just has to be "HEROES". The rest of the shows have some stunts, but "HEROES" is all stunts. I use to watch the series, but they got a little too convoluted with the plot manipulations for me. Don't get me started on time travel this past year. Auughhh I get a headache! LOST! FLASH FORWARD! Yikes!
Ensemble Drama Series:
The way I judge this category is to look at the series as a whole. Do I get stories of more than one character? If I am looking to see each character's reaction to a situation and along with their interplay, then I think it succeeds as an ensemble. Some shows really focus on one leading character and have all of the other characters flow through in ways that could be replaced by anyone entering the series.
CLOSER - this is a show filled with character actors. Ensemble work in this is phenomenal. They all go seamlessly from comedy to drama week to week. You feel like they all have connections with each others characters. I absolutely love this show.
MAD MEN - I know everyone loves this one. I try to love it, but it leaves me cold.
THE GOOD WIFE - Good show, but more of a leading character with supporting players than an ensemble.
TRUE BLOOD - Eeuuww, good ensemble work, though.
DEXTER - I have to wait and rent it.
Ensemble Comedy Series:
GLEE - Do you really need to ask a musical theatre geek about this show? Heaven has come to my TV set! My favorite thing about GLEE is that they decided to hire real singers, real musical theatre performers. Hooray! The plots are stupid, but the one-liners are fabulous. Jane Lynch is phenomenal. Next season will be even better with Idina Menzel. They obviously heard me through my TV screen when I said she looked just like the Rachel character (Lea Michele).
MODERN FAMILY - I laugh out loud every week. I love the dad, Ty Burell. I love everyone in this show. It works as an ensemble piece each week.
30 ROCK - I used to love it, can't get into it this season. It seems like they are all making predictable choices.
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM - It's not my kind of show. It's too predictable and mean and silly for me.
THE OFFICE - Newton boys rock!
There are more shows nominated in other categories, but I'll stop blogging now.