The Screen Actors Guild Awards are always an Academy Awards preview. And Sunday’s show is throwing some curve balls into the Oscar race. In an upset, Jamie Lee Curtis won best female supporting actor for her performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” over the favorite, Angela Bassett.
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 at Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, streaming live on Netflix’s YouTube page. 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.”
Her win was quickly followed up with a more expected one for another “Everything Everywhere All at Once” cast member: Ke Huy Quan. The former child star, who 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.”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” increasingly looks like an unstoppable juggernaut. In the week leading up the SAG Awards, the best-picture favorite won with both the producers and directors guilds, two of the most predictive awards ahead of the Oscars.
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 livestream 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.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “The Banshees of Inisherin” came in with a co-leading five nominations. Each film is up for the guild’s top award, best ensemble, along with “Babylon,” “The Fabelmans” and “Women Talking.”
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.
Sunday’s SAG Awards could offer the most clarity in the lead acting awards.
Best actress could go to either Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) or Cate Blanchett (“Tár”). While Andrea Riseborough’s much-debated campaign led to an Academy Awards nomination, some of the most notable Oscar snubs are up for best actress. Though nominated by the actors guild, Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”) and Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) were overlooked by the academy, prompting some to decry racial bias in Hollywood. Ana de Armas (“Blonde”) is also nominated.
In best actor, Austin Butler (“Elvis”), Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) and Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”) all are considered contenders with a realistic shot of winning. The guild also nominated Adam Sandler (“Hustle”) and Bill Nighy (“Living”).