SAG Awards Analysis: A Big Night For Netflix, Diversity, And Possible Game Changer For ‘The Trial Of The Chicago 7’ thumbnail

SAG Awards Analysis: A Big Night For Netflix, Diversity, And Possible Game Changer For ‘The Trial Of The Chicago 7’


Netflix inarguably had a very big night at the SAG Awards, both in movies and TV categories taking half of the latter’s eight categories across three shows ( The Queen’s Gambit, Ozark, The Crown), and three of the five big movie categories including both Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom stars Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman in the lead acting slots, and for Outstanding Cast The Trial Of The Chicago 7 winning the big award of the evening which is SAG’s equivalent of the Best Picture Oscar. Last year’s win in the latter category likely started a late surge for Parasite leading to its ultimate sweep on Oscar night. Netflix has to be hoping that after some disappointing showings in recent precursor guild awards shows for WGA and PGA that this can represent a turnaround in momentum and put Chicago 7 back in the game in a big way. A loss would be devastating to its Oscar chances particularly since this was such an ensemble actor driven film, but this SAG victory could re-energize the stirring and timely Aaron Sorkin film’s chances to stop presumed front runner Nomadland. That scenario has certainly happened in the past and the Netflix team was thrilled tonight by these results.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
David Lee/Netflix

For further encouragement Netflix only has to look at the 2005 race where, almost exactly like Nomadland has done to date, heavy favorite Brokeback Mountain won the PGA, WGA, Golden Globe Drama, Broadcast Critics Award (now Critics Choice), and also the DGA and BAFTA Best Film awards, the latter pair expected also to go next weekend to the Searchlight film about modern day nomads roaming the country in their vans (only difference was WGA where Nomadland was ineligible). Still upstart Crash was able to swoop in and grab the Best Picture Oscar, while also taking Editing and Original Screenplay, an outcome on April 25th that you could definitely imagine happening also for Chicago 7. The plot thickens. Nomadland had come into the SAG contest tonight with a single nomination for star Frances McDormand but came home empty. The lack of a Cast nom might have been due to the fact it is comprised largely on non-actors in key supporting roles.


Additionally though, the late Boseman was expected to win in the lead actor category and had come into the evening with a record four nominations overall for his work in Ma Rainey’s and Da 5 Bloods. Davis’ lead actress win was thought to be more of a question mark, her genuine whoop of excitement being proof even she had no idea if her name would be in the envelope. This further muddies the outlook for Oscar’s uber competitive Best Actress category. Here’s why. So far in the three major televised awards shows Andra Day has won the Globe, Carey Mulligan has won at Critics Choice, and now Davis has taken it from her peers at SAG (maybe the most reliable indicator). So who wins at BAFTA next Sunday on the last stop before Oscar voting begins and ends?  Well, in this very strange year none of them are nominated there, and in fact only McDormand and Piece Of A Woman’s Vanessa Kirby are even in the BAFTA running in a category heavily favoring native British talent meaning the Oscar race, as it is for the women in Supporting, has become even more competitive and could be anyone’s ballgame.


And speaking of Supporting, Korean veteran actress Yuh-Jung Youn’s popular win for Minari at SAG certainly boosts her already considerable Oscar chances in a very competitive and worthy field that is also wide open and also has been split between the precursor shows (Jodie Foster, not Oscar nominated, won at Globes and Maria Bakalova at Critics Choice).  With the Glenn Close factor vs Olivia Colman still percolating there, that race just got more intriguing with this win for Minari’s feisty irresistible grandma who incidentally joins last year’s Parasite cast as the only Korean actors ever to take SAG prizes.

Daniel Kaluuya in 'Judas and the Black Messiah'
Warner Bros. Pictures

The male acting categories, on the other hand, now have defined front runners with both Boseman and Judas And The Black Messiah’s Daniel Kaluuya continuing their unbeaten streaks this season at Globes, Critics Choice, and now SAG. Certainly this was a very big night for diversity with a clean sweep in the individual movie acting categories all going to people of color.


On the TV side, SAG went more predictably for past winners and nominees with The Crown and Schitt’s Creek respectively taking Cast ensemble awards,  and Mark Ruffalo completing his triple crown of Globe, Critics Choice and SAG for I Know This Much Is True. The Crown and Ozark were familiar winners for their stars in the Drama races too. However some new blood appeared with Jason Sudeikis’ Comedy Actor win for Ted Lasso, and Anya Taylor-Joy for The Queen’s Gambit as Lead Actress in a Movie or Limited Series boding well for their future Emmy chances.

Finally congrats to the Screen Actors Guild for managing to keep this all a secret since taping all these categories via zoom last week. As far as I can see from all the attempted leaks of winners names before tonight’s big reveal none of them were correct, and though totally pre-recorded, the breezy show came in at just one hour. Nice.

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