For those of you who think the SAG award nominations on Wednesday morning didn't mean very much for Michael Fassbender, Albert Brooks and Shailene Woodley -- three presumed Oscar nominees who were snubbed by SAG -- consider this, from Deadline's Pete Hammond: "Guild voters overlap with Academy voters and often are the most accurate barometer of where Oscar might be headed." Translation: these nominations matter! At least more than the New York Film Critics Circle awards might! So, what does that mean for the nominated and not nominated? Ahead, five ways the 18th annual SAG award nominations might affect Oscar season.
1. 'Bridesmaids' is a legitimate contender
Over the summer, Movieline's S.T. VanAirsdale wondered if 'Super 8' would earn the coveted 'Inception' Exception at the Academy Awards in 2012. That being: the one summer blockbuster Hollywood honors with a Best Picture nomination as a way to goose audience interest in the fledgling telecast. The conventional thinking on The 'Inception' Exception changed when AMPAS dropped the Best Picture nominees down from a standard ten to anywhere from five-to-ten -- based on a percentage vote -- but perhaps 2011 will still provide some audience fodder. Most assumed that 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2' would roll on to a Best Picture nomination in a 'Return of the King'-like coronation, but judging from the SAGs -- and the less-predictive critical awards -- 'Bridesmaids' appears to be the cause célèbre of the moment. 'Bridesmaids' earned a Best Ensemble cast nom from SAG, opposite assumed Academy Award heavy-hitters 'The Help,' 'The Artist,' 'Midnight in Paris' and 'The Descendants,' and ahead of thought-to-be faves like 'Moneyball' and 'Hugo.' Meanwhile co-star Melissa McCarthy was nominated in the Supporting Actress category, ahead of 'Descendants' star Shailene Woodley. Will the actors' branch carry this now-classic romcom to the Kodak Theater? Don't bet against it happening.

2. 'War Horse' isn't an actors movie, so it should be OK...
Future 'War Horse' supporters shouldn't be too upset about the Steven Spielberg film being excluded from the SAG nominations. After all, despite a cast of likable talent (Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Kebbell), the main character in 'War Horse' is Joey ... the horse. Unless SAG has a secret horse branch where Mr. Ed and the horse from 'Hot to Trot' hang out, this one wasn't in the cards.

3. ... but 'Hugo,' 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' and 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' may not
No reason to push the panic button just yet, but the SAG nominations probably weren't the best thing for 'Hugo' and Scott Rudin's twosome, 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' and 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.' From a Best Picture standpoint, 'Hugo' should still be solid gold -- after all, its support is going to come from the Directors Guild (for Martin Scorsese), the Producers Guild (for Graham King) and all the below-the-liners (for editor Thelma Schoonmaker, cinematographer Robert Richardson and production designer Dante Ferretti). 'Dragon Tattoo' and 'Extremely Loud,' however, are a different story: no Rooney Mara (shocking, since she's so brilliant), no Tom Hanks or Sandra Bullock, no ensemble nods. Right now, neither of these films appear to be on the awards-circuit radar. That's a problem no embargo is going to fix.

4. 'Drive' needs a turbo boost
Whither 'Drive'? The most-talked about film of September has fans all over the critical community, and one sure-fire bit of Oscar bait in Albert Brooks's brilliant supporting turn as a gangster prone to stabbing people with forks. Or so it was thought. Brooks's snub -- in favor of either Armie Hammer, inexplicably for 'J. Edgar,' or Jonah Hill for 'Moneyball,' depending on your prejudices -- was easily the most surprising of the morning, if only because it was assumed that the 'Drive' star would at least finish as the unofficial runner-up to Christopher Plummer at the Oscars. Why no SAG love for Brooks? Why isn't FilmDistrict pushing 'Drive' more in a weak year when it could easily grab nominations for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Editing and Score? Hopefully, this is just a blip and Brooks gets the nomination he so richly deserves come January. That's certainly what Team 'Drive' thinks, as a publicist sent this email out (via Movieline) shortly after the snub: "We appreciate all of your continued support of DRIVE and coverage of the film, especially following this morning's SAG noms. Thank you for all of your shout-outs to Albert Brooks on Twitter and in your analyses of the SAG nominations in regards to his not being recognized today, but we remain confident that the Supporting Actor race still boils down to a two-man showdown between Albert and Christopher Plummer." Hopefully!

5. Nobody knows anything
Remember all that stuff you just read? Forget it! As the great William Goldman once said of Hollywood, "Nobody knows anything." Never is that more true during Oscar season. So, if your a Brooks pom-pom waver or sporting a Fassboner for Michael Fassbender's snubbed performance in 'Shame,' don't worry; there is still plenty of time for them to wind up among the shortlist of 2012 Oscar nominees. Happy speculating!

EARLIER: 'The Help,' 'The Artist' and 'Bridesmaids' Lead 2012 SAG Award Nominations

[Photo: FilmDistrict]

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categories Movies, Awards