Politics and Performance Prevail at SAG Awards

SAG-AFTRA+was+created+following+the+2012+merger+of+the+Screen+Actors+Guild+and+the+American+Federation+of+Television+and+Radio+Artists.+%28Courtesy+of+Flickr%29.

SAG-AFTRA was created following the 2012 merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. (Courtesy of Flickr).

By Ryan Di Corpo

SAG-AFTRA was created following the 2012 merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. (Courtesy of Flickr).

The 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, which aired this past Sunday on TNT and TBS, sustained the political tone that has marked the 2018 awards season thus far. The awards, held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, featured all-female presenters for its 13 categories and actress Kristen Bell as the ceremony’s first-ever host. The SAG Awards followed the lead of this year’s Golden Globes, albeit without the same prevalence of black suits and gowns, as both shows focused on the stories and struggles of women in the film and television industries. While Hollywood continues to grapple with ongoing revelations of rampant and virtually unchecked sexual misconduct pervading the entertainment world, the industry’s awards shows have been utilized as platforms to address these issues head-on.

During the opening of the awards, Ms. Bell alluded to the start of the #MeToo movement and the creation of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund by declaring that the actors in the room will “march forward with active momentum and open ears.” This theme of empowerment and resolve in the face of grave injustice was echoed throughout the evening by various persons. Presenters Rosanna Arquette and Marisa Tomei praised the “silence breakers,” and SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris tasked the audience with “[creating] an environment in which this discrimination, harassment and abuse are no longer tolerated.”

However, the awards were not bereft of controversy. James Franco, nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in The Disaster Artist, attended the ceremony despite being recently accused by five women of inappropriate sexual behavior. Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari, nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series for “Master of None,” has also been the subject of a recent allegation of sexual misconduct. Ansari did not attend the ceremony, and the announcement of his name was met with no applause. Both men lost their respective awards.

The top acting awards of the night for the film categories went to Frances McDormand, who also received the Golden Globe for her work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and to Gary Oldman, another recent Globe recipient who has received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Yet, the night truly belonged to Three Billboards, which received three awards, including Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Sam Rockwell and Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

On the television front, the NBC drama “This Is Us” picked up two awards, honoring the work of the show’s ensemble and specifically honoring Sterling K. Brown, who became the first African-American to receive the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama. Julia Louis-Dreyfus of HBO’s “Veep” also made history with her win for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series. She is now the only television actress to win five individual SAG Awards. The Screen Actors Guild also honored the career of veteran actor Morgan Freeman, who received the 54th Life Achievement award.