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SAG Awards Surprises and Snubs: Rami Malek Hacks Into the Field, Empire Gets Shut Out

Where did that Key & Peele nod come from?

Joyce Eng

The Screen Actors Guild Awards did what it usually does Wednesday: nominate all the same people with some head-turning/scratching mentions here and there. Check out our SAG Awards surprises and snubs, and then tell us yours.


Rami Malek: The Mr. Robot breakout scored a drama actor nomination in a tough field, especially since SAG doesn't usually take too kindly to newbies. But his nod is not a complete left-field shocker, given the raves for his stellar performance and the fact that SAG has embraced USA before: Suits' Patrick J. Adams was shockingly nominated four years ago for a comparatively less renowned performance.

Mad Men: After getting goose eggs the past two years, Don Draper & Co. returned with nods for drama ensemble and drama actor for Jon Hamm for its last hurrah. A third ensemble win would put it in second place behind ER's four victories, while Hamm, after finally winning the Emmy in September, is in prime position to complete his awards collection with an individual SAG trophy for the show.

Key & Peele: The departed sketch series came out of nowhere with a nomination for comedy ensemble -- an ensemble that consists of just its eponymous stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, which is hilarious because it's up against defending champ Orange Is the New Black, which boasts 34 cast members.

Ellie Kemper: It's not quite a miracle, but it is fantastic to see the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star make the comedy actress cut for her exuberant performance after not scoring an Emmy nod. It's all the more impressive given the beloved veterans she edged out (and we know SAG loves their vets -- Betty White won this category two straight years for Hot in Cleveland), like Allison Janney (Mom) and Grace and Frankie's Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the latter of whom did get an Emmy nod.

Nicole Kidman for Grace of Monaco: Name-check nod at its finest, because, really.


Empire: The industry is flat-out rejecting Empire, which received only three Emmy nods this year and now zero from SAG. Sure, Season 2 makes no sense and SAG is slow to embrace newbies, but not even a nod for the always fabulous Taraji P. Henson? (Had she been nominated alongside How to Get Away with Murder's Viola Davis, it would've been the first time two black actresses were up for drama actress.) At least Jamal and Lucious are up at the American Sound Awards.

Amy Schumer: If you told us one Comedy Central sketch comedy show would be nominated, we would've bet on Schumer and Inside Amy Schumer. Instead, that honor went to Key & Peele, and 2015's It Girl was left out in the cold. Maybe she can commiserate with her new bestie Jennifer Lawrence, who also saw her Oscar hopeful Joy get blanked.

Fargo et al.: Forced to compete in drama series instead of miniseries/TV movie like last year, the revered second season came away with scratch, as did American Crime, which went over big at the Emmys, and the excellent sophomore season of The Leftovers. Would Fargo and American Crime fared better if it were allowed to compete in miniseries/TV movie? Probably.

Newbies: As usual, freshmen series didn't fare too well since SAG voters are wearisome creatures of habit (#neverforget Alec Baldwin's seven straight wins). No new show from the fall scored nods, and the only people from first-year shows who made it in were Malek, Kemper and Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk -- and all their shows premiered at least six months ago. But we can always count on SAG to play catch-up -- it nominatedTransparent and Jeffrey Tambor this year after shamefully leaving them off last year (not unlike when they snubbed Homeland completely during its first year).

Tatiana Maslany: After nominating the Orphan Black star last year, voters dropped her like a bad habit. While we wouldn't have put a lot of money on Maslany making it back in, it is a shame that she was left off in favor of returning faces when there are so many worthy fresh ones (see: Krysten Ritter for Marvel's Jessica Jones, Kirsten Dunst for Fargo). Look, Maggie Smith is great and all, but we all know she's phoning in those Downton Abbey one-liners in at this point. Even the Emmys dropped her this year.