Here are the five SAG Award nominees for what they called Best Ensemble. This really means Best Picture: “Nine,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Precious.” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “An Education.”

The shock: “Up in the Air” is not in that group. The certain Oscar nominee thus becomes “Number 6″ for the Academy Awards. That’s okay since there are ten slots this year.

But what’s important to note is that the five chosen by SAG are where the minds of the Academy voters are right now. Of course, Academy nominations aren’t read until February 2nd. A lot could change in that time. But history notes that SAG and the Academy are quite similar in membership. And where SAG goes, the Academy is usually right behind it.

The group that should be most embarrassed by all this is the National Board of Review. Their exclusion of “Precious” has rendered them completely irrelevant. It has these SAG noms, and plenty more from the Critics Choice Awards and the Golden Globes.

Two SAG omissions: Daniel Day Lewis’s wonderful Guido from “Nine.” I think DDL may be getting shorted out because he just won for “There Will Be Blood.” And Marion Cotillard, for “Nine,” as well. She also just won, for “La Vie En Rose.” And Julianne Moore in Supporting for “A Single Man.” She’s a definite Oscar contender. I don’t know who she would knock out of the SAG list, but Moore’s “Charley” is one of the great creations on film in 2009.

Also: no love for the Coens’ “A Serious Man.” This is such a great cast, I was certain it would get Best Ensemble. There are tons of gems in that film, from Fred Melamed to Amy Landecker, Sari Lennick, and of course, Michael Stuhlbarg.

One note: Bob Balaban, the gifted character actor, picked up more nominations for the Lifetime film he directed, “Georgia O’Keefe.” He got a raft of Golden Globes, too. Balaban last year had tons of awards with the Doris Duke movie for HBO, “Bernard and Doris.” You may recall that it was Balaban who was the driving force behind Robert Altman’s award-winning “Gosford Park.” Bravo!

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