Tuesday, January 31, 2017

SAG Awards recap: 'Hidden Figures' surprises with Best Ensemble win as march towards Oscar night continues

The SAG Awards were bound to be a little bit strange this year. When the group announced their nominations back in December, many pundits were surprised that La La Land, the heavy favorite at the time, was not among the nominees for Best Ensemble. Some chalked it up to members of SAG-AFTRA taking the word "ensemble" literally, but there was genuine concern that the campaign for Damien Chazelle's film was falling apart. But after the film won a record number of Golden Globes, snagged 14 Oscar nominations, and won the Producers Guild Award for Best Picture, it became clear that the SAG Awards were going to be a bizarre hiccup in the musical steamroll. For four of the five films nominated (Captain Fantastic isn't up for Best Picture at the Oscars), this was a chance to solidify their status as the only true challenger to La La Land. Barry Jenkins' Moonlight was hoping to capitalize on the momentum from the Golden Globes, and going into last night, it seemed to be a likely proposition. However, after several fairly predictable wins throughout the entire night, the SAG threw us a curveball at the last minute. Here are the winners of this year's awards!

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Hidden Figures

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Denzel Washington, Fences

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Emma Stone, La La Land

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis, Fences

The wins for Stone, Ali, and Davis were all to be expected, and barring some miraculous comeback by Natalie Portman, those three races are fairly set. And despite the fact that Denzel Washington had never won an SAG Award, nobody quite expected the Fences star to upset Manchester by the Sea's Casey Affleck. The last time an actor won the SAG Award and not the lead acting Oscar was Johnny Depp in 2003, so Affleck has some serious history to overcome. But then again, no film won Best Picture without an SAG Ensemble nod since 1995's Braveheart, and there's a good chance that streak will be broken this year. The more surprising victory came from Hidden Figures, which topped the heavily favored Moonlight and Manchester to take home the group's Best Picture prize. There's no denying that the Theo Melfi-directed film has momentum- it's a box office hit and everybody seems to love it. Nonetheless, I seriously doubt if it'll pick up any serious heat in the Best Picture category, especially with only 3 Oscar nominations. This doesn't change much at all, and even though we all seem to want a more competitive race, the Oscar is La La Land's to lose now.

Images courtesy of Fox, IMDB/Paramount, Lionsgate, A24

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