While the SAG nominating committee, which changes every year, often tends to be a tad more mainstream than the Oscars, this year they went defiantly indie, showing the impact that targeted early campaigning can have. Unlike the Oscar nominations, they made a strong statement for diversity, awarding both Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation” and Universal hip-hop biopic “Straight Outta Compton” coveted Best Ensemble slots. “Thank you for giving this film some love and respect,” said Supporting Actor winner Idris Elba (who notably did not land an Oscar nomination), and collected two SAG Awards, for both “Beasts of No Nation” and TV’s “Luther.” “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “welcome to DiverseTV.”
“Look at this stage; this is what we talk about when we talk about diversity,” said actress Laura Prepon, accepting Best Comedy Series Ensemble for Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” which also won Best Female Performance for a TV series for Uzo Aduba. Queen Latifah also won Best Actress in a mini-series for HBO’s “Bessie,” which got made after 22 years. “Anyone out there who don’t come in a package people think you should,” said Latifah, “keep fighting for it.” And Viola Davis won for Shonda Rhimes’ “How To Get Away with Murder.” “Why do I have to be a hero? Why do you have to like me? My job as an actor is to create a human being,” Davis said.
Among the Academy Award nominees, SAG Ensemble nominee “Spotlight” beat out “The Big Short,” which was surging with a PGA win, suggesting that “Spotlight” still has a chance to win the Best Picture Oscar. “They took every opportunity to tell the truth,” said Mark Ruffalo of writer-director Tom McCarthy and writer Josh Singer.
“This is really for the disenfranchised everywhere, for every Flint, Michigan in the world, this is for the powerful who take advantage of the powerless,” said Michael Keaton. “It comes down to two things, there’s fair, and there’s unfair.”
Leonardo DiCaprio, as expected, took Best Actor for “The Revenant,” as he will on Oscar night. Also favored to win the Oscar is SAG Best Actress winner Brie Larson, who thanked her 9-year-old “Room” co-star Jacob Tremblay. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander’s win as Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” in a close contest could help her land the Oscar as well. She thanked her actress mother, bringing a little more of her personality to her acceptance speech than at the Critics’ Choice Awards.
Accepting her Life Achievement Award from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett reminded that back in the day the network told her “all the comedy variety shows are hosted by men, comedy variety is a man’s game.” Her answer: “No!” Burnett insisted on sticking to her contract and doing her one-hour variety shows, complete with a 28-piece live orchestra and costumes by Bob Mackie. Thankfully.
(Winners in bold.)
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
BEASTS OF NO NATION (Netflix)
THE BIG SHORT (Paramount Pictures)
SPOTLIGHT (Open Road Films)
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Universal Pictures)
TRUMBO (Bleecker Street)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role