Friday, January 8, 2010

Life as a SAG Awards Nominating Committee Member

I had the best time being on the 2009 SAG Awards Nominating Committee. It was a great honor and privilege, and I had a lot of fun with it.

Every year, a SAG member in good standing can request to be on the Nominating Committee (as I came to find out later, once a SAG member has served on the Nominating Committee, that member isn't eligible to serve on the Nominating Committee for 3 years. So, I won't be eligible to serve on the committee until 2012.) In 2009, I was one of 2,100 SAG members selected to serve on the Nominating Committee. I was notified in late Spring via letter and I also received my special ID card that identified me as "SAG Awards Nominating Committee Member - Theatrical Motion Pictures". There are two sections - film and TV. (Note: I ran into a Nominating Committee member who was on the TV side and tried like to hell to get info on the Californication season finale, which I wasn't able to do - I'm glad I waited - my colleague was right, there were a lot of unexpected elements!). In the letter, I was told that I would be receiving invitations to screenings and screeners starting in the summer, although I would receive most of them in the fall. We also were instructed to go to the website especially dedicated to our committee and visit it often for updates.

I found out in the summer that I would be receiving a letter that I had to complete and sign to be able to have the screeners and screening invitations sent to my home address. I assume since these screening opportunities were usually for films that hadn't been released yet, the studios and everyone associated with the awards, because of integrity reasons, wanted to make sure materials didn't fall into the wrong hands. I waited and waited for that letter to arrive, but it didn't and the due date to return the letter was drawing closer. I called SAG to see what was up and they said the letter probably went to my old address - we moved in June. When I told them I updated my contact details with SAG, they said they needed to send me the letter to my new address and I had to walk the completed and signed letter into SAG by the deadline (apparently, the letter would be sent to parties outside of SAG, who handle the mailing of the screeners, and SAG had previously sent them the Nominating Committee member database with the addresses they had at the time). So, I walked in the completed and signed letter to SAG - Whew. I made it by the due date!

So, Fall came and I was getting excited for all these screening invitations and screeners to come my way. At first, I received maybe a screening notice or two and a screener or two every week. As we got closer to that magical date in December when we would turn in our ballots - and our Nominating Committee Member service would end - the frequency of screeners and screening invites became more and more. I kid you not, the two weeks prior to turning in our ballots, I swear I was receiving something in the mail and receiving FedX and UPS packages 3-4 times a day!! It was overwhelming but I embraced it because I probably wouldn't have had seen many of these films. It was interesting to see that each screener is personal to each Nominating Committee member - it is coded with a special number so if the screener got into the wrong hands - you would be easily identifed as the culprit (it states on the screener that the screener is for the Nominating Committee member's eyes only and the screener is not to be given to anyone, I repeat, to anyone) - I can see Tootie from "Facts of Life" now, "you're in TROUBLE." And, that's a capital T, that rhymes with P, that stands for pirate. So, the message is to keep the screener for your eyes only.

So, the time came to complete my ballot and vote. I love that technology has progressed over the years that you can vote online - much much simpler! When the SAG Award nominations were announced last month, I'll be honest, I wanted to see how many nominees I actually voted for. I was right on the money with some - woo hoo!!

My personal goal for the Oscars has always been to see all the Best Picture nominees prior to the awards. This year, I have seen all the performances of the actors and actresses nominated for a SAG award. It was incredibly tough to cast my vote as there were so many amazing performances. The ones that stood out for me were Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds), Mo'Nique (Precious), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Matt Damon (Invictus), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Woody Harrelson (the Messenger), Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air), and Sandra Bullock (the Blind Side). My list is actually longer because of the superb performances and films. In fact, the last screening I saw was for a film called "Everybody's Fine", excellent film with an excellent ensemble cast including Robert DeNiro, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell and Drew Barrymore. An excellent film that didn't receive nominations, but is a must-see.

So, now I will vote as a SAG member this week to determine which of these nominees with receive the Actor. I'm looking forward to voting online again. And yes, I have received DVDs - duplicates of what I have.

The only thing I can think of to make this magical experience perfect is please, oh please, SAG, give me a discount on the $600/ticket to the SAG awards! I don't want to be greedy but if you want to give me a ticket, gratis, for my service, I will most gratefully accept and represent you proud!!

The SAG Awards will be simulcast on TBS and TNT on January 23, 2010. The complete list of nominees is here.

I love the awards season - and this one is going to be great! I've picked who I want to win the Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. What are your pics? Send me a note.


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