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SAG Awards Analysis: A Big Night For Netflix, Diversity, Repeat Winners And Oscar Frontrunners

There can be no question that diversity was the story of the night at the 22nd Annual SAG Awards, especially in terms of the television wins which were dominated by Idris Elba and a host of African American television stars.

Certainly in light of all the controversy surrounding Oscar’s second year in a row of an all-white acting lineup, the SAG results this year will draw headlines as a direct comparison to what we are going to be seeing on Oscar Pete Hammond badgenight, even though the comparison is somewhat unfair as nearly all of these diverse winners came from the far more inclusive television side of things, and many such as Uzo Aduba, her show Orange Is The New Black and Viola Davis repeated their same SAG victories from last year. As Elba, who won Best Male Actor in a movie or mini for his series Luther, as well as Male Actor In a Supporting Role for the film Beasts Of No Nation, said when he came out later The 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, America - 30 Jan 2016to present a clip from Beasts, “Welcome to diverse TV.” That was just about the only reference to the big story of recent days, one in which Elba was often mentioned as having been unfairly passed over for an Oscar nod for Beasts. He got sweet revenge with a SAG victory for the film in a category that did not include the Golden Globe, NBR and Critics’ Choice-winning Oscar frontrunner Sylvester Stallone who was passed over by SAG, perhaps because Creed wasn’t widely screened or even open when the ridiculously early balloting for SAG nominations began on November 18 and had to be returned by noon on Dec 7, two days before nominees were announced. Really is there such a need for SAG, whose balloting is conducted among separate TV and movie committees of 2,250 SAG Awards 2016 logorandomly chosen members, to start their nomination voting so early, when many late season films are just getting going? Why can’t they be content to announce when the three other major guilds do, right after the first of the year instead of the second week in December?  There have been growing complaints about this timetable  but I noticed it got louder this year where movies like The Hateful Eight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 45 Years,  and Creed seemed disadvantaged by their release dates.

In terms of how well SAG’s results tonight will reflect — or affect — the Oscar races there is a very good chance the Guild’s results will match up with Oscar in all but Supporting Actor where Elba can’t repeat. The expected wins for Leonardo DiCaprio as Male Actor in The Revanant and Brie Larson as FemaleLeonardo DiCaprio Actor in Room came in just as predicted. DiCaprio is about as certain as it gets in these things. SAG nominees Johnny Depp and Michael Fassbender didn’t even show up tonight. And though The Danish Girl’s Alicia Vikander was a bit more of a question mark, the SAG win as Female Supporting Actor gives her a big boost coming on Alicia Vikander SAG Awards 2016the heels of her recent Critics’ Choice Awards win. And by the way I am no fashion maven, by any standard but her dress was also the winner of the night.

The bigger question on everyone’s mind is what does Spotlight’s Ensemble Cast win mean for its Oscar Best Picture chances? This was a must win for that Open Road indie as it was losing big momentum after losses at the Golden Globes and last week at the predictive Producers Guild Awards which haven’t been wrong in eight years and chose rival The Big Short, which really could have picked up speed with this SAG win. It wasn’t to be and the race for the Best Picture Oscar remains about as wide open as it has ever been at this point in the game.

Right from the beginning it was felt that if there was one award Spotlight could easily win, it was SAG’s Cast honor. This group is a true acting ensemble and the real life people they play are a true journalistic ensemble. However it seemed with its large big name cast and growing big ‘Mo The Big Short was capable of pulling off a mild upset. Both films sent DVD screeners to the entire SAG-AFTRA membership, which is well into six figures. So check this statistic out: With six, often predictive, groups having selected their “Best Picture” choices, six different movies lay claim to them. The National Board Of Review kicked things 'Spotlight' Cast SAG Awards 2016off with Mad Max: Fury Road, the New York Film Critics went for Carol, the Globes split their two Best Pic categories between The Revenant and The Martian, Critics’ Choice Awards went for Spotlight, and PGA was in The Big Short camp.

Now SAG has thrown a lifeline to Spotlight with a win for its cast, even though the guild repeatedly says they don’t look at it as a “Best Picture” prize. Pundits do, and SAG despite their crazy voting dates (final balloting spanned from December 16 through yesterday) has a pretty decent track record in foretelling the ways the Oscar winds may be blowing. With last night’s ACE Eddie wins for Mad Max in drama and Big Short in comedy the race continues to get even more muddled. Next weekend’s DGA awards are taking on even greater importance than usual where any one of those five nominees (Revenant, Mad Max, Big Short, Spotlight and even Martian’s Oscar-snubbed Ridley Scott) could win. There is a legitimate scenario for each.

As for the TV side of things , in addition to a fine showing for diversity, SAG often likes to hand the same prize year after year to the same people (consider Alec Baldwin’s eight wins for 30 Rock) and that habit continues with Kevin Spacey, Aduba, Davis and the Ensemble Cast awards to Orange Viola Davis - SAG Awards 2016Is The New Black and Downton Abbey all for the second year in a row (Abbey has actually won three of the last four years). SAG also tends to be a beat behind other awards shows including the Globes, Critics Choice and even Emmys in bringing fresh blood to their nominations and wins. Only newcomer Jeffrey Tambor in his first year for his transgender role in Transparent was able to break through and start a new streak for Male Actor in a Comedy Series. So, though SAG can be applauded for its diverse choicesJeffrey Tambor SAG Awards 2016 this year (which also included Queen Latifah’s Bessie win for Female Actor in a movie or mini), it may also be the comfort level of picking a winner and sticking with them season after season. Until turning over the title to Orange Is The New Black, ABC’s Modern Family had won that ensemble prize five years running. You get the idea.

And speaking of ABC, they were the only mainstream commercial network to score anything against Cable and the streamers with that Davis win for How To Get Away With Murder. Of course, pubcaster PBS hangs in there with Downton Abbey. But with three TV wins  and its first on the movie side for Elba in Beasts Of No Nation, Netflix was the big company winner of the night for either movies or TV. That may be why we heard Ted Sarandos’ name mentioned more than God, who usually is the one who gets the most thank yous at these things. Not tonight.

    1. SAG will give Uzo a comedy SAG until the show goes off the air. Her character will battle physical abuse, addiction, cancer and gum disease, and she will still get the comedy SAG.

        1. The Emmys changed their rules and any program that is an hour is by default a drama unless the show successfully appeals to the governing board. OITNB tried appealing and they were (sensibly) overruled.

          1. The notion that something must be a comedy because it is a half hour and something else must be a drama because it is an hour just shows the antiquated mindset that afflicts most of these awards shows. Oscar’s diversity problem is just another symptom of a bigger disease. Get with the times, people!

  1. Right, because African-Americans win = diversity. Someone should check with the Hispanic and Asian community and see if they feel the awards were a reflection of their lives and if they feel like they were included.

    1. True, but as a fellow member of the Asian community, I’m honestly happier to see African-Americans win than another white folk.

      1. Thank God we now have Fresh Off The Boat and I do believe it may win an Emmy in September! We also have Jane the Virgin and Telenovella and not really a fan of Devious Maids but it’s a start. Bravo/Brava: Uzo and Idris and Viola and Queen Latifah!

      2. @Kevin

        Kevin — Really? YOU sound like a disgusting racist. Racism comes in all colors and from all cultures – obviously. You, my friend, fit the description perfectly. Can you imagine the responses here if someone posted: “…I’m honestly happier to see whites win than another African-American.” I can only imagine the intolerance.

        Oh, by the way, every black American is not an AFRICAN American. My family has been here since the first slave traders brought us here. THEY were African……I’m American. Not a black American, black, African American, etc.. I don’t need YOU separating me from other Americans and giving ME a label that YOU think is politically correct. Black is a skin color, period. We come from a plethora of backgrounds.

        When I read comments like yours it truly saddens me.

        ~ Vidae

        1. Please don’t remove the context of Hollywood history and enduring practice. There were no blacks executives churning out products that employed Latinos and Asians as stereotypes or casting minorities ONLY by race.

          When White (and male, and straight) isn’t always the default for telling stories, everyone who’s not white/male/straight BENEFITS. It’s a GRADUAL process of shifting away from complacent attitudes and customs.

          1. Why is it that when a person of ‘color’ prefers to be recognized for who they are inside vs the color of their skin, there always seems to be someone who questions that persons authenticity.

            I read Vidae’s comment and found it intriguing. Since I live and work in this liberal bubble called ‘Hollywood’, I rarely hear a different perspective. Generally, what I hear is the Jada and Will perspective — you know, the black elitist rhetoric.

            Thank you, Vidae. I, for one, can appreciate your words without questioning your ‘color’.

        2. I dig that. And of course Vidae is speaking for herself which is great. My upbringing is different (not better, just different) in that we appreciate the acknowledgement of our black heritage because everyone sees color and we celebrate that. I will always love and appreciate being called African-American or Black American.

    2. Yes exactly.
      Benicio Del Toro (Sicario) and Oscar Isaac (ExMachina; Show me a hero) were also forgotten.

      And I’m afraid I haven’t seen or heard (so the press has some responsibility in this too) about Asian films this year…

      1. Benicio Del Toro was overlooked for the brilliant film, Sicario and I think its early release cut its Oscar momentum. Well, a sequel is being made with his character as the focus and I bet Benicio Del Toro will come roaring back!
        P.S.
        Oscar Isaac won a Critic’s Choice Award for his lead role in Show Me a Hero on HBO! Isaac’s role in ex Machina was interesting but not a tour de force role. Vikander stole that show.

  2. SAG is right in suggesting their ensemble award is not a Best Picture equivalent. Especially in a year when an Oscar frontrunner like “The Revenant” is not an ensemble piece.

    1. Cause best picture implies producer and director…

      Ensemble refers to the actors. It’s the SAGs… i.e. It’s ALL ABOUT THE ACTORS remember…. What a self congratulatory love fest this year’s show was….

    1. Seeing that all these nominations preceded the announcement of the Oscar nominations, your point is meaningless in this regard. Also the winners were all justified.

  3. Jake … history has demonstrated from as far back as the Abolitionist Movement that women and other minorities have always benefited when blacks have forced the doors open. I would guess you were not a POC otherwise you wouldn’t have made such a ludicrous comment. Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, women all understand that they too will reap the seeds from this push by blacks for more equitable representation in Hollywood.

  4. The nightmare situation for the Oscars will be Spotlight or The Big Short winning and their huge all-white casts and crew coming on stage to collect the prize.

    1. I don’t think winning an Oscar adds anything to an Actor’s resume except that he WON the BIG one. Does it add more money? I doubt Leo is going to make more money than what he’s making already. You’ve still got to be a boxo star to get more money for a movie. Will Ruffalo get more money? Will Stallone if he wins? I doubt it. It’s just a prize. Something to put on a resume. People can’t even name the last 5 pictures or ACTORS to win. And look at the boxo of some of those nominations. They haven’t crossed the $100Mil mark. Maybe after winning the Oscar they will, but right now, they are slow crawling into profitability.

  5. I’d say last nights winners were the result of Oscar backlash. Blacks won in nearly every category that had a black person in contention. Seemed obvious to me and my fellow observers.

  6. Idris won because he simply was the best in those categories .Luther is one of the best written and acted shows on TV. It wasn’t because he was black – it was the best.

  7. Hollywood will over do “diversity” and will likely end up looking silly. We will have to wait a year to find out.

    1. Because SAG has a tendency to always repeat, most of the awards were predictable and I honestly believe the Oscar diversity issue is coincidence – (odd as that may seem). The only real minor surprise might have been Alicia Vikander winning over Rooney Mara. (talk about a movie losing heat so quickly!). But that has nothing to do with racial diversity. Now, if Straight Outta Compton had come outta nowhere to win the Best Ensemble Award, that would be reason to question.

      However, if there’s any voting organization that needs to be overhauled because of it’s continuous lack of diversity, it is SAG! But it’s not racial diversity, it’s selection. There are many deserving performers and performances, why do they give it to the same people all the time???? There’s definitely something wrong with their system! and I’m surprised more actors haven’t raised a stink.

    2. Luckily for the Oscars, they’ll have Nate Parker and BIRTH OF A NATION next year and this weekend, it won the top prizes at Sundance

  8. SAG Awards analysis in a nutshell; another excuse for SNL to take the day off. There are 5 Saturdays in January. How many did they work— 2 or 3?

  9. Where to have these in depth discussions about race? I guess it isn’t here—not anywhere nearly enough room. I, too, am intrigued by what Vidae has to say. And also—when are we going to have the discussions (and where?) about when will be a good time to think about trying to stop putting people in categories by the shade of their skins? Science shows (ever watch PBS–finding people’s roots? Much unseen “white,” “black,” and everything else everywhere–we are all related!) And trying to figure out how to be fair & more diverse would still be the goal, of course, but what about trying to get on a path where we don’t have to use color naming to describe people? There are some very smart brains in this big wide world, so there’s probably a way… (And if you think that calling folks “white” is such a healthy thing—one might consider that that’s what some “white” supremacists enjoy calling themselves too..) Some day we’ll all be more like “one shade,” like in the beginning–maybe we should start to consider that now?

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