SAG Breakdown: Denzel And ‘Hidden Figures’ Surprise

The 23rd Screen Actors Guild has come and gone, and it’s provided us with some interesting insight into the Oscar race, providing us with a list of frontrunners, as well as a series of shockers.

Starting with the film awards, we now have three frontrunners in Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Actress. Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis benefit from not only winning, but also giving the best speeches of the night, built on humility and humanity on a night when current affairs were on everyone’s minds. They had class, heart, and grace, and it cemented their road to the Oscars. As for Best Actress, Emma Stone took home the “Actor”, and despite her speech being fairly ordinary (but not bad), it still should give her the final edge over Natalie Portman.

However, the real shockers of the night were Best Actor and Best Ensemble. Despite Casey Affleck’s comfortable frontrunner status, Denzel Washington ended up pulling off the surprise victory-so surprising, he didn’t even prepare a speech. There are a lot of reasons that Washington won here, ranging from the backlash against Affleck to the fact Washington has never won a SAG before to the fact Washington flat out gave the best performance of the year (I’ll have more on that in tomorrow’s Listicle). It doesn’t mean he has the advantage at the Oscars, especially considering the British didn’t even nominate him for Best Actor. What this does mean, however, is that the two actors are now in a bloodbath race for the Oscar, the likes of which I’m not sure I’ve seen, not even for Clooney vs. Dujardin, not even for Davis vs. Streep. Meanwhile, in a surprising upset, Hidden Figures won the top prize for Best Ensemble. This was by far the most joyous moment of the night, because nothing was as fun or as uplifting as watching Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe take the stage and deliver a truly uplifting speech. It was a great moment, both for Hidden Figures and for La La Land. Why La La Land, you ask? Well, the only films that could have beaten it were Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. Either film needed to win here in order to upset the heavy favorite, and that didn’t happen. There may be a last moment push for Hidden Figures, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a done deal, and La La Land is taking home the Oscar.

As for the television awards, things played out mostly as expected, with wins for Sarah Paulson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Orange is the New Black. And while I didn’t predict them, William H. Macy, Claire Foy, and John Lithgow all won SAG Awards of their own. However, the bigger surprises came in the Best Actor in a Miniseries and the Best Ensemble in a Drama races, where Bryan Cranston and Stranger Things both pulled off surprise victories, and watching the shock felt by the recipients was palpable, properly rounding off a night that was equal parts shocking and chalk victories.

Oh, and for the record, Lily Tomlin’s speech when she received the Lifetime Achievement Award is pretty much the textbook on how to give a speech. There’s really no one like her. 

I’ll have an update for my Oscar predictions later this week, and while the three frontrunners are definitely in the clear, the real question now is “Who will win Best Actor?” I’ll offer up my thoughts later this week.

Best Male Actor: Denzel Washington-Fences
Best Female Actor: Emma Stone-La La Land
Best Supporting Male Actor: Mahershala Ali-Moonlight
Best Supporting Female Actor: Viola Davis-Fences
Best Ensemble in a Film: Hidden Figures
Best Stunt Ensemble-Film: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Male Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie: Bryan Cranston-All the Way
Best Female Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie: Sarah Paulson-The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Best Male Actor in a Drama: John Lithgow-The Crown
Best Female Actor in a Drama: Claire Foy-The Crown
Best Male Actor in a Comedy: William H. Macy-Shameless
Best Female Actor in a Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus-Veep
Best Ensemble in a Drama: Stranger Things
Best Ensemble in a Comedy: Orange is the New Black
Best Stunt Ensemble-TV: Game of Thrones

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