I Had Fun Watching Last Night’s SAG Awards
And It’s Not Just Because I Was Mostly Right In My Predictions for TV
For all my issues with how the Screen Actors Guild gives its awards for television, not separating Supporting Performers from Leads in its, still not given an award for Best Limited Series or TV movies and leaning until recently towards repetition, I can’t deny the fact that it has also been the most consistently entertaining awards show for more than twenty years. (The Critics Choice is gaining ground, but it’s only been a decade and they’re still working out the kinks in presentation. Given another five years, I expect they’ll take over the prize.) They are funny and self-deprecating without being pretentious, they never seem that serious even when they’re being serious (it helps that they’ve gone almost the entirety of their run without a host) and they always manage to honor the best in TV in Film in two hours, give or take. That’s a fairly neat accomplishment for any awards show.
This year’s SAG awards were no exception. There was a somber tone in the air as the war in Ukraine was at the back of everybody thoughts and was mentioned in quite a few acceptance speeches. (I’m actually going to go into detail on that.) But there were also incredible moments of pure joy. Martin Short and Selena Gomez delighted everybody with their presentation of Best Supporting Actress in a Film with just about every line. Here are some of the highlights:
Short: “Welcome to the SHAG Awards where we honor the best in adult films.”
Gomez: “No Marty, this is the SAG awards.
Short: “Well, that makes much more sense. I wondered why Streep was here.”
(Cut to Meryl Streep looking shame faced while laughing hysterically.)
Gomez: And we’re sorry Steve isn’t here because the three of us are like a family. In that we often eat meals together in total silence.
Find this segment on YouTube; it’s already a classic. I’m just sad Steve Martin was still in New York for this week’s SNL. He always makes awards shows fun.
Equally wonderful was seeing Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow presented an award, dressed and acting almost entirely like Romy and Michelle and their most recent high school reunion. Their banter was wonderful: Mira’s line about great ensembles and presenting awards for great ensemble was even funnier when Lisa realized it — and if we didn’t already need another reason for a Romy and Michelle sequel, I’m sure their presentation will pretty much start another on-line petition.
Now on to the awards, which were close to what I predicted on Friday with two very big exceptions which I’ll get to in a minute. As I expected Jason Sudeikis and Ted Lasso took their prizes in Best Actor in a Comedy and Best Ensemble in a Comedy. Unfortunately almost all of them were in London filming Season 3, so we didn’t get to see them all pile on stage. Fortunately, they were all in the same room (with one exception) which led to some absolutely priceless moments, starting with when Sudeikis tried in vain to stop his cast mates from hugging him after he won and the wonderful reaction of Hannah Waddingham accepting for her cast, including a delighted shot out to Juno Temple, her comrade his arms who was in LA. (I’m not sure why she was there and they weren’t, but).And it was wonderful watching Jean Smart continue her march towards an awards sweeps as she took another prize for Hacks. She received a much deserved standing ovation and was both funny in her speech (“We really are the world’s oldest profession…Some people think we’re the actual oldest profession) and called out to her children with devotion.
And I was pleased and kind of amazed that while the one percent took the big prize for Succession (I’ll get to that) the uglier side of capitalism ended up the big winner for TV for the night. Squid Game managed to take three prizes, including the biggest shocks: Best Actor going to Lee-Jung-Jae and Best Actress to Hoyeon. Both were clearly floored by their wins, even through the interpreter and the broken English (in Hoyeon’s case) but it was clearly a sign that the momentum for Squid Game is strong (rest assured I will watch and review it when I find the time) and that the frontrunner status for Succession is less solid than I thought. The Critics Choice awards may tell a more accurate story for now (and that’s before the arrival of the final seasons of Killing Eve, Ozark and Better Call Saul, not to mention The Gilded Age, will clearly lead to upheaval among this year’s Emmy nominations).
But even Succession winning the grand prize didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, mainly because the trophy was accepted by Brian Cox, an actor I truly admire. He made a grand entrance wearing a Covid mask saying Team Logan and F — -Off! (his catchphrase) and made arguably the best speech of the night. After thanking the cast and writers, he sent a shout out to Ukraine, particularly the President (who is a former actor) but just as importantly the performers and writers in Russia, who as he pointed out ‘are forbidden under penalty of treason to say anything detrimental to the state and we should support them as well.” This is something that I can’t imagine anyone thinking of, and given the recent level of disruption in Russia about the invasion of Ukraine, it’s clear that there is a sign that way of thought may be in danger.
The most powerful speech of the night came with the last award for television. (Kate Winslet won for Best Actress, but was not present though she did give a taped tribute to Helen Mirren who was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award.) Michael Keaton, as expected, took the Best Actor prize for Dopesick. He talked about the joys of being an actor and how he gets to deal with situations like inequity and the kind of problems that led to the opoid crisis that Dopesick focuses on. “I can feel the eye rolls being made. Shut up and Dribble; Shut Up and Act. The acting I will give up; the shutting up, never.” He gave a shout out to the people in Ukraine, and then nearly broke down at the end as he accepted the awards in the names of his late sister and nephew, both of whom had died of overdoses. I was looking forward to Keaton’s victory before last night, now I’m overwhelming by his triumph and his dignity.
I’m not sure how effect that Screen Actors Guild winners will have on the upcoming Best Picture race (as joyful to my soul as it was to see CODA take the Best Ensemble prize, it doesn’t change the fact that most of the major Oscar nominees — West Side Story, Licorice Pizza and especially Power of the Dog weren’t nominated for Best Ensemble yet somehow House of Gucci was.) Similarly, it’s always difficult to tell if the TV awards will have any affect on the Emmy nominations at all. And with the lack of supporting awards it’s going to be very hard to tell if any of the winners will end up prevailing at the Emmys or indeed even being nominated. (Orange is the New Black won the top prize for Comedy Ensemble three years running, but never took the grand prize and indeed was only nominated once.) But it’s always a fun and compact awards show that really you wish more awards shows took the lesson to heart in — one that celebrate actors but never takes itself seriously. Indeed Martin Short said as much at one point last night: “Now to something vitally important to society. Giving an actor another award.” Well, at least this awards show is fun and gets done on time. So to paraphrase the phrase that opens the show each year: “My name is David, and I love these Actors.”