SAG Awards results shake up awards season

Anya Taylor-Joy received Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series for her role in Netflix’s limited series, ‘The Queen’s Gambit.’ // Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The belated 2021 Awards season comes to a close this month. On Sunday, Apr. 4 the 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards took place.

Like many other awards shows this season, the ceremony was pushed back several months due to the pandemic.

The SAG Awards are voted on by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), which is an American labor union representing 160,000 film and television actors, journalists and other entertainment industry professionals.

While the SAG awards took place entirely on Zoom, they managed to avoid most of the pitfalls that other pandemic-era awards shows were plagued by. The ceremony was short, only about 45 minutes, and pre-recorded, allowing the production team to avoid any real-time technical difficulties.

On the whole, the film recipients were pretty surprising and yielded some of the best acceptances in recent memory.

One of the more surprising outcomes was Viola Davis winning Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” It was expected that Frances McDormand would take the award for “Nomadland,” but Davis’ win was a welcome twist.

When Viola’s name was announced she did a little surprised jump and shimmy on her Zoom screen and gave her husband a sweet peck.

Viola then gave a moving acceptance speech acknowledging her late co-star Chadwick Boseman: “Thank you to George C. Wolfe and Denzel Washington, Todd Black, Jeremy Shamos, John Coyne, Dusan Brown, Taylour Paige, Glynn Turman, and Michael Potts, Colman Domingo, the beautiful Chadwick Boseman. Thank you, August [Wilson], for leaving a legacy to actors of color that we can relish for the rest of our lives.”

Another wonderfully surprised recipient was Yuh-Jung Youn, a heavily awarded actress in Korea, who won Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her performance in “Minari.” In a stacked category, where Youn was competing against the likes of Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”) and Olivia Coleman (“The Father”), her win was well deserved.

Despite this, Youn’s face was that of shock and she was rendered speechless for a few seconds before saying, “I don’t know how to describe my feelings, I’m being recognized by Westerners.”

However, the biggest accolade of the night, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, was not surprising at all. The award went to Aaron Sorkin’s “Trial of the Chicago 7,” a mediocre film with a star-studded cast. Headlining actors included the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat”), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Inception”) and Michael Keaton (“Birdman”).

Another unsurprising win was Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, which rightfully went to the late Chadwick Boseman for his final performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Simone Ledward Boseman, Chadwick’s wife, tearfully gave his acceptance speech, thanking the actor himself.

Of the television awards, “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Crown” were the biggest winners.

With its final season running last year, “Schitt’s Creek” went out on a high note, receiving the SAG for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Catherine O’Hara, who plays the quirky and __ Schitt matriarch, took home Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Comedy Series. This win was expected (and deserved); O’Hara has won all five major acting awards for this role in the 2021 awards season.

The most recent season of “The Crown” stirred quite the controversy, as it finally portrayed the royal family’s so-called “Diana years.” For its controversial season, the Netflix series’ cast took home Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. In the Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Drama Series category, “The Crown” had three nominees: Emma Corrin for Princess Diania, Olivia Coleman for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth and Gillian Anderson for Margaret Thatcher. Gillian Anderson ended up receiving the award.

Netflix productions were recognized in several other categories, too. Anya Taylor-Joy received Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series for another Netflix production, the hit limited series “The Queen’s Gambit.” Jason Bateman received Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series for the streaming service’s “Ozark.”

As for the other television categories, Jason Sudeikis won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy for “Ted Lasso” and Mark Ruffalo won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series for his role in the gut-wrenching HBO limited series “I Know This Much is True.”

Often a solid predictor of the Academy Awards results, which were also postponed and will take place on Apr. 25th, the SAG Awards are less likely to be as analogous to the Oscars in this unprecedented year.

The SAG Awards only nominate five films for their Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture category — compared to the Academy’s eight nominations for the 2021 Best Picture category. The current Oscar front runner for this award, Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland,” was not nominated for a SAG award. The possible underdog winner for Best Picture, Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman” was not nominated at the SAGs either.

Whether or not the buzz that comes with its SAG win will propel “Trial of the Chicago 7” to the front of the Best Picture race and push out “Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman” is yet to be seen.

As for the acting awards, Chadwick Boseman is a lock for the Academy Award for Actor in a Leading Role. Actress in a Leading Role is more up in the air, nominees include Viola Davis, Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”), Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) and Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”). Davis’ SAG win may give her an edge in the category, but McDormand is currently the favorite.

The Academy has until Apr. 20 to cast their ballots; as the penultimate awards show for the 2021 Awards Season, the surprising results of the SAG Awards may shakeup longtime favorites.