E: Like I said, I had a feeling about this. With the rather suddenly beloved veteran Sylvester Stallone out of the picture, Idris Elba took the stage as SAG’s supporting actor winner. From the very beginning of the show, the tone was clear: if the Academy isn’t inclusive, SAG-AFTRA sure is. The five actors chosen to give the traditional “I am an actor” statements that begin the show were Anna Clumski, Kunal Nayyar, Rami Malik, Queen Latifah, and Jeffrey Tambor, who did start the evening as the lone old white man — highlighting his role as a transgender woman. Now that’s a statement. Bam!
The other three individual acting categories confirmed what I (and many other Oscar watchers) suspected: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson and Alicia Vikander are in it for the win. No, none of them gave particularly impressive speeches, but they didn’t disgrace themselves either. Leo got to sit with Kate Winslet and share a prominent hug with her before hitting the stage, which produces a nice nostalgic moment for all the Titanic fans out there. After Kate’s win at the Golden Globes, Vikander was the only category in real question, and there’s likely not going to be a question now.
After seeing the very deserving Elba win not only once but twice, and a parade of winners including Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah and Viola Davis, I started to think that Best Ensemble was going to go to Straight Outta Compton or possibly even Beasts of No Nation. (While it does feel like the guild was sending a message, I should note that all of these actors are perpetual awards favorites; Aduba and Davis won these same categories last year. And in case you were wondering, no, African-descended actors did not win every category they were nominated in.) Like all but one of it’s 22 years, however, SAG went with a film that’s also an Oscar nominee. Like the Broadcast Film Critics, and unlike the Producers Guild, SAG chose Spotlight, an inspirational alternative to stock market drama The Big Short. Both tell ugly contemporary stories, but only one brings a true life story of telling truth to power and making a difference.
So, does this win make Spotlight the Oscar favorite? Maybe. Does it make it a lock? Absolutely not. We’ll have to look to BAFTA and to the Director’s Guild to get a better idea of where this year’s momentum (which has shifted once again) will take us.