The unlikely awards-season juggernaut Everything Everywhere All at Once marched on at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on February 26, 2023, and even gathered stream with awards not just for best ensemble, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan but also for Jamie Lee Curtis.
The SAG Awards, often an Oscar preview, threw some curve balls into the Oscars race in a ceremony streamed live on Netflix’s YouTube page from Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Curtis won best female supporting actor for her performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once over the favourite, Angela Bassett. Brendan Fraser took best male lead actor for The Whale.
Bassett, expected to be the first actor to win an Oscar for a Marvel movie (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), had been the category’s clear frontrunner for weeks if not months. But Curtis, nominated for her first SAG Award, was the surprise winner in Sunday’s ceremony. A visibly moved Curtis said she was wearing the wedding ring her father, Tony Curtis, gave her mother, Janet Leigh.
“I know you look at me and think ‘Nepo baby,’” said Curtis. “But the truth of the matter is that I’m 64 years old and this is just amazing.”
In the week leading up to the SAG Awards, the best-picture favourite won with both the producers and directors guilds, two of the most predictive awards ahead of the Oscars. At the SAGs, Yeoh took best female lead.
“This is not just for me,” said Yeoh. “It’s for every little girl that looks like me.”
Quan, the former child star, won for best supporting male actor. He had left acting for years after auditions dried up, noted he was the first Asian to win best male supporting actor at the SAG Awards.
“When I stepped away from acting, it was because there were so few opportunities,” said Quan. “Now, tonight we are celebrating James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Hong Chau, Harry Shum Jr. The landscape looks so different now.”
Sunday’s SAG Awards lent some clarity in the lead acting awards. Best actor has been one of the hardest to call. Austin Butler ( Elvis), Brendan Fraser ( The Whale) and Colin Farrell ( The Banshees of Inisherin) have all been seen as possible winners but it was Fraser who went home with the SAG Award for his comeback performance.
“Believe me, if you just stay in there and put one foot in front of the other, you’ll get where you need to go,” said Fraser.
Quinta Brunson and Janelle James of Abbott Elementary kicked off the 29th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards with a few opening jokes, including one that suggested Viola Davis, a recent Grammy winner, is beyond EGOT status and has transcended into “ShEGOTallofthem.”
Brunson later returned to the stage with the cast of Abbott Elementary to accept the SAG award for best ensemble in a comedy series. Brunson, the sitcom’s creator and one of its producers, said of her castmates, “These people bring me back down to Earth.”
The White Lotus also took a victory lap, winning best ensemble in a drama series and another win for Jennifer Coolidge, coming off her wins at the Emmys and the Golden Globes. A teary-eyed Coolidge traced her love of acting to a first-grade trip to see a Charlie Chaplin film. She then thanked her date, a longtime friend, the actor Tim Bagley.
“You’re a wonderful date tonight,” said Coolidge. “I can’t wait until we get home.”
The ceremony’s first award went to a winner from last year: Jessica Chastain. A year after winning for her lead performance in the film The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Chastain won best female actor in a TV movie or limited series for Showtime’s country music power couple series George & Tammy. Chastain jetted in from previews on the upcoming Broadway revival of A Doll’s House.
After the SAG Awards, presented by the film and television acting guild SAG-AFRTA, lost their broadcast home at TNT/TBS, Netflix signed on to stream the ceremony.
Sunday’s live stream meant a slightly scaled-down vibe. Without a broadcast time limit, winners weren’t played off. A regal and unbothered Sam Elliott, winner for male actor in a TV movie or limited series for 1883, spoke well past his allotted time. But the show sped through early winners, including awards for Jean Smart ( Hacks), Jeremy Allen White ( Bear) and Jason Bateman ( Ozark).
Another streaming effect: No bleeping.
One award was announced ahead of the show from the red carpet: Top Gun: Maverick won for best stunt ensemble.
The SAG Awards are considered one of the most reliable Oscar bellwethers. Actors make up the biggest percentage of the film academy, so their choices have the largest sway. Last year, CODA triumphed at SAG before winning best picture at the Oscars, while Ariana DeBose, Will Smith, Jessica Chastain and Troy Kotsur all won both a SAG Award and an Academy Award.
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