The 2023 SAG Awards were utterly dominated by “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” It was such a media sweep that many viewers probably closed their YouTube window completely forgetting “The White Lotus” won Outstanding Cast for a Drama Series and that Jennifer Coolidge took the Female Actress in a Drama Series award over fellow HBO star and two-time Emmy Award winner, Zendaya. Throw in Brendan Fraser taking Male Actor in A Motion Picture and it was simply a breathtaking night for A24 Films.
Keeping all that in mind, here are seven takeaways from the inaugural Netflix and Screen Actors Guild award partnership.
It’s “Everything, Everywhere” all the way to Best Picture
I mean, we knew this last night when it took the PGA Award, but capturing four wins including Jamie Lee Curtis, Key Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, and, of course, Cast in a Motion Picture it ended any discussion of any other film taking the Best Picture crown. The A24 release has now won the DGA, PGA, and SAG ensemble honors. Now, just how many will it win on Oscar night? Place your bets!
“The Bear” vs. “Abbott Elementary” is gonna be a thing this Emmy season
Sure, “Abbott Elementary” took the SAG Award for Cast in a Comedy Series (a big guild win for the ABC series), but “The Bear” won a super competitive PGA Award just 24 hours prior. Throw in the fact Jeremy Allen White took the SAG Award for Male Actor in a Comedy Series and there is love for both series in the guild that forms the largest branch of the Television Academy (and both series are produced by Disney Television, mind you). A final “Barry” or “Ted Lasso” season could spoil it, but we’ve got a potential Comedy Series Emmy showdown on our hands.
An awards show not on broadcast television is…better!
No host? No problem. Janelle James and Quinta Brunson delivered a short, but super funny opening monologue for the show. The “I’m An Actor” segment, which is often cringeworthy, was probably as entertaining as it’s ever been (thank you, Jamie Lee Curtis). And yes, there were still “commercial breaks” to help the production but they weren’t real commercials. They were simply clips from previous SAG ceremonies and everyone always needs a bathroom break, right? Will that change when the show goes to Netflix proper next year? If you’re signed up for Netflix with ads, probably. If you’re still paying for no ads, it “looks” like it will be one of the more enjoyable awards show viewing experiences out there. And with what appeared to be an average of 200,000 viewers at a time (an hour after the show the total number of views was at 640,000), we have to assume both SAG and Netflix had to consider it somewhat of a success.
Admitted “Nepo Baby” Jamie Lee Curtis just threw a wrench in the Supporting Actress race
Before the ceremony began, the conventional wisdom was that the Oscar for Supporting Actress was between “The Banshees of Inisherin’s” Kerry Condon, who won the BAFTA Award last week, and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s” Angela Bassett. The latter was now a four-time SAG nominee and won the Cast honor for “Black Panther” in 2019. The two nominated “Everything Everywhere” actresses, Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephane Hsu, were expected to cancel each other out. That didn’t happen. Curtis, whose only previous nomination was in 1995 for “True Lies,” shocked the room (and the industry) by taking the awards. Except, maybe it wasn’t that big of a surprise. The “Halloween” legend is revered by working actors for her four-decade-long career that has spanned both film and television. She is also the queen of social media among the cast (4.9 million followers on Instagram) and has been one of the drumbeats for this film since its initial theatrical release campaign. And she’s funny, genuine, humble, and has been incredibly loving to everyone in the awards game this season. She also gave a hilarious speech that could propel her to a win on Oscar night. Will Condon or Bassett have something to say about that? Maybe.
Sally Field had a rough acceptance speech
Few actors are as deserving of a SAG Lifetime Acceptance award as Field, but that speech was not her finest hour. It may have seemed rambling to some, but was actually prepared text she was reading off a teleprompter. What raised the most eyebrows was when Field tried to acknowledge her difficulty in transitioning from television comedy star to respected film actress in the 70s and early 80s. Even following her Best Actress win for “Norma Rae” in 1980 she was still dismissed by many as a television actress. It’s one of the reasons why, when she won again in 1985 for “Places in the Heart,” she gave her famous “You like me. You really, really like me” speech. Field tried to explain her struggle while also recognizing the more difficult struggle many actors of color had experienced in the room. She did not articulate it well.
Is there a Best Actor race?
Like Jamie Lee Curtis, Brendan Fraser is a longtime working actor who has had high highs (“The Mummy” franchise) and years where he, admittedly, could not find work. “The Whale” has led to a renaissance in the appreciation of his career and talents. Still, the Darren Aronofsky endeavor is a movie that only scored two acting nominations and is so polarizing it couldn’t even land an Adapted Screenplay nomination in a historically weak year. Austin Butler, who delivered a transformational performance in “Elvis” was expected to duplicate his BAFTA Award win tonight. And if not, Colin Farrell, another respected actor who has worked in Hollywood for over 20 years, was the potential upset winner. Instead, Fraser pulled off a shocker and the win may find many AMPAS members reconsidering who they were planning on voting for. Or maybe it’s just a SAG one-off and Butler will easily take the honor on Oscar night.
Everyone continually underestimated the popularity of “Ozark”
“Ozark” came to an end last year after being a Netflix staple for four seasons. Often dismissed by critics, the program continued to earn respect from its peers with numerous Emmy, DGA, SAG, WGA, and other guild nominations. Julia Garner won two Emmys and Jason Bateman won an Emmy for Directing. But, in perhaps one of the more under-the-radar runs in award season history, Bateman also capped off three straight (eligible) wins for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series category at the SAG Awards. Tonight was the last guild honor it was up for. Bateman’s win? We call that a “legacy.”