Sure enough, mere hours after we declared that the Oscar race is over before it began, the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG Awards) came along and… well, they didn’t so much disprove our theory that La La Land was going to win everything as they did imply that maybe, just maybe, this year’s awards season won’t be quite as predictable as we predicted.
But maybe they will: Three out of the five feature film awards given out tonight went to the frontrunners in each category. Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences, Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor for his work in Moonlight, and Emma Stone took home a statue for singing her heart out in the musical La La Land. Each of those performances are earning accolades, and with good cause.
But the Best Actor and Best Ensemble Cast categories weren’t the foregone conclusions we assumed they were. Conventional wisdom told us that the Best Actor award was probably going to go to either Casey Affleck (for Manchester By The Sea) or Ryan Gosling (for La La Land), but the prize went instead to Denzel Washington, for a performance in Fences that the actor directed himself. The film is about a family enduring the emotional mood swings of its patriarch, played by Washington in a scene-stealing role. All three performers – Affleck, Gosling and Washington – are up for the Best Actor award at this year’s Academy Awards, and it looks like the Oscar could go to any of them (Andrew Garfield and Viggo Mortensen, also nominated, are still relative long shots).
Later, the Best Ensemble Cast award (the SAG Awards equivalent of “Best Picture’) went to the ensemble drama Hidden Figures. The film is an acclaimed crowdpleaser which has earned over $100 million domestically, but all eyes so far this awards season had been focused on either La La Land or Moonlight as Best Picture frontrunners.
Then again, they may still be. Hidden Figures won the Best Ensemble Cast award without any competition from La La Land which, perhaps due to its comparatively small cast, was left out of the Ensemble category at this year’s SAG Awards.
La La Land picked up the Producers Guild Award earlier this weekend, so it still seems to be the likely frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar. But perhaps its path to Oscar glory is not as clear as it once seemed.
And perhaps, with the majority of the Screen Actors Guild Awards in the feature film categories being won by actors of color, we are finally starting to turn a corner in an industry that was notorious for focusing primarily on the artistic achievements of white people.
We’ll find out how the other guilds lean as the awards season continues, and we’ll see how the Oscars turn out on February 26, 2017. You can see the complete list of Screen Actors Guild Awards winners, including the winners in the television categories, at their official website.
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Top Photo: 20th Century Fox
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved, Rapid Reviews and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.