The Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations were full of snubs and surprises. One big surprise came in the supporting actress category, where Penelope Cruz popped up for “Ferrari” after being in 10th place in the odds. While it’s tempting to write off her nom as a SAG-only thing, don’t be shocked if she makes it into the Oscar lineup because Cruz is the queen of solo acting nominations — and sometimes solo noms altogether — for her films.
Cruz has four Oscar nominations: Best Actress for “Volver” (2006) and “Parallel Mothers” (2021), and Best Supporting Actress for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) — for which she won — and “Nine” (2009). What do all four of these films have in common? None of them received an above-the-line Oscar nomination outside of Cruz.
“Volver” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” had no other nominations at all, meaning she won her Oscar as a lone nominee. “Nine” was a critical and box office disappointment, but Cruz emerged unscathed with an afterglow bid and the film scored below-the-line nominations for costume design, production design and original song. “Parallel Mothers” only had one additional nomination in original score. Cruz’s “Parallel Mothers” nomination also came after she missed all the televised precursors and didn’t make the BAFTA longlist (she did win the Volpi Cup at the Venice International Film Festival and prizes from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and National Society of Film Critics).
Even when her movie is weak, Cruz is strong. That brings us to “Ferrari.” The Michael Mann film hasn’t exactly shifted into first gear in the Best Picture race (it’s in 28th place), but Cruz has received glowing notices for her performance as Laura Ferrari, the grief-stricken estranged wife of Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver). Though she was snubbed by the Golden Globes and was once again MIA on the BAFTA longlist, the Oscar winner made the cut at the Gotham Awards in a gender-neutral supporting category and placed second at NSFC to Oscar frontrunner Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”), in addition to nabbing nominations at several regional critics awards. And now she has a SAG nomination.
The supporting actress race remains in flux for the last spot (or two) and the SAG mention could be enough to propel Cruz into the final five, given her Oscar history, her industry status and the respect from her peers, who, again, nominated her two years ago when she had no major precursor support. Things could also play out like it did for “Parallel Mothers” with one other nomination for “Ferrari” as the film is in fifth place in the Best Sound odds, so she might not even be a solo nominee.
Cruz is currently in seventh place in the Oscar odds, but underestimate her at your own peril. She doesn’t need to coattail a strong film because she’s powerful enough on her own. And if/when she is in a top Best Picture player, she may just be unstoppable.
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