The name "Christoph Waltz" can provide some cold comfort to any actor left out of this morning's SAG nominations. Omitted from last year's Best Supporting Actor lineup, he rallied with an Oscar nomination and ultimately took the win. Admittedly, his SAG miss probably had much to do with scheduling, but the point stands: as Marcia Gay Harden proved before him, a SAG nomination isn't a prerequisite for Oscar glory.
But it certainly helps. Make no mistake: the studios and publicists behind certain films and players absent from this morning's nominations will be feeling very glum indeed, while those behind some unexpected inclusions are turning cartwheels right now. (Maybe not literally, though I'd like to see Harvey Weinstein have a go.) For better or worse, the SAG slate is a significant preview of what we can expect when the Academy announces their nominations in a little over a month's time -- three years ago, lest we forget, 19 of 20 SAG-nominated performances repeated at the Oscars.
So which contenders got an unexpected boost this morning, and which got shafted? Let's round up a few key points:
All is lost (at the SAGs, at least) for Redford

SAG is usually highly sympathetic to American veterans, even in little-seen films – they’re the ones who nominated Robert Duvall for “Get Low” (remember that?), after all. So it was by far the biggest shock of the morning that Hollywood legend Redford was passed over for his one-man-show performance in J.C. Chandor’s maritime survival tale “All is Lost.” With scarcely any dialogue, Redford is required to carry the entire film through pure physical performance – you’d think that’s the kind of feat fellow actors would respect. But the film has struggled to find an audience, and perhaps many SAG members thought it sounded like too much hard work to pop in their screeners. It’s a major blow for a contender many thought could win the Oscar – in 20 years, no one has won a leading-role Oscar without a SAG nod. (To add insult to injury, the film was nominated in the Stunt Ensemble category, though Redford did much of his own stunt work.)

Dallas Buyers Club” shows hidden strength

Everyone expected Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to be nominated for their moving performances in Jean-Marc Vallee’s AIDS drama, and they duly were. But few saw that nomination for Best Ensemble coming – the film is full of fine character work in the margins, and Jennifer Garner was arguably been under-credited for her warmly sympathetic turn as a morally conflicted medic, but the film has largely been discussed as a two-man showcase. It’s not an undeserved nomination, but it’s one that says less about the ensemble than it does about the film’s popularity with voters – on this basis, “Dallas Buyers Club” is a serious threat for a Best Picture nod.

“Mr. Banks” needs some saving

The slot taken in Best Ensemble by “Dallas Buyers Club” is one most were expecting to go to Disney’s prime awards hopeful “Saving Mr. Banks,” which seemed something of a soft, starry lob to the SAG membership. But while they nominated Emma Thompson (netting her first SAG nod since 1995) for her entertainingly prissy turn as P.L. Travers, they clearly weren’t feeling the film that much: not only did it miss in the top category, but Tom Hanks was passed over for his baity supporting turn as Disney himself. This will have Disney nervous, particularly after the film underwhelmed commercially in the UK. Have its Oscar prospects been overestimated?

Guy Lodge is a South African-born critic and sometime screenwriter. In addition to his work at In Contention, he is a freelance contributor to Variety, Time Out, Empire and The Guardian. He lives well beyond his means in London.