HOLLYWOOD─If there is one awards show I look forward to more than the Academy Awards it is the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The 2020 ceremony was held on Sunday, January 19, and it delivered some surprises. Some of you might be asking why the SAG Awards are so important: it’s because they are a major predictor of where Oscar might be headed.
While NOT always 100 percent accurate, winning a Screen Actor’s Guild Award can place one in the driver seat to Oscar. Also it doesn’t hurt to have some surprises along the way. Remember when everyone was certain Casey Affleck was a lock for “Manchester by the Sea,” only to lose to six-time nominee Denzel Washington for “Fences?” I remember that same surprise when Meryl Streep won for “Doubt” over Kate Winslet for “Revolutionary Road.”
Per usual actors and actresses shared their tales of getting their SAG cards, some hilarious, some heartfelt. Tales shared included Christina Applegate, Eugene Levy and Cynthia Erivo. Levy’s was hilarious because he went on and on, drawing laughs along the way. I love that the Screen Actors Guild Awards doesn’t have a host because it makes the pacing of the show move seamlessly.
The first prize of the night for Male Actor in a Comedy Series went to Tony Shalhoub for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” On the flipside, it was Phoebe Waller Bridge from “Fleabag” who won the SAG award for Female Actor in a Comedy Series. In an upset, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won the award for Ensemble in a Comedy Series, over what many predicted would be a victory for “Fleabag.”
As expected Laura Dern walked away with the trophy for Female Actor in a Supporting Role for “Marriage Story.” The predictability this awards season is making it a boring one to say the least. Brad Pitt took home the trophy for Male Actor in a Supporting Role for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Who knew Pitt was such a jokester. His ability to be so self-referential in his acceptance speeches, says all you need to know about Pitt, the guy seems as real as they come.
The victory dance was in the works for Michelle Williams for Female Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series for her performance in “Fosse/Verdon.” Many expected Jharrel Jerome to walk away with the prize for Male Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series for “When They See Us,” but it was Sam Rockwell taking the win for “Fosse/Verdon.”
Moving over to the drama side of TV, it was Jennifer Aniston who was in tears picking up the prize for Female Actor for her fantastic work in “The Morning Show.” Peter Dinklage won his first SAG Award for Male Actor in a Drama Series for his work on “Game of Thrones.”
Robert De Niro was celebrated with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the guy has an eclectic body of work that is so damn impressive. Leonardo DiCaprio who has co-starred with the titan paid tribute to the one and only. While De Niro’s speech got slightly political, he did it in a way that it was not preachy, and he made it clear as an actor he has the right to speak his mind. I loved what De Niro said, which got a resounding applause from the audience.
It was “The Crown” that took the prize for Ensemble in a Drama Series, causing a bit of an upset, as I thought the ladies of “Big Little Lies” might walk away with the prize. Joaquin Phoenix continued his dominance as the front-runner for his work in “Joker.” Look, I like a bit of competition, but hands down Phoenix delivered one of the best performances I’ve seen in the past decade. It was Renee Zellweger who walked away with the SAG Award for Female Actor in a Motion Picture for her performance as Judy Garland in “Judy.”
Perhaps the most excitement of the night was trying to figure out who might win the prize for Outstanding Ensemble in a Motion Picture. I was under the impression that perhaps “The Irishman” or “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” would win the top prize, but “Parasite” swooped in to claim the prize. This is a major game changer and impacts what might be transpiring with Oscar. While “1917” won the Producers Guild Prize, this means “Parasite” has a MAJOR chance of being the first Foreign Language Film to win the Best Picture prize at the Oscars next month.
So for those in the dark, and if you don’t like subtitles, please give them a try because “Parasite” is one hell of a movie people and I mean it’s hard to even chat about the movie without spoiling it. So I think we all know how the acting races will pan out the rest of award season. So the only uncertainty in my opinion lies in the Best Picture and Best Director races when it comes to Oscar. Could we have a few surprises? It’s possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.