Viola Davis and Denzel Washington speak on stage Sunday at the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards show at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
By Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis won Screen Actors Guild Awards as best actor and best supporting actress in a motion picture for their starring roles in August Wilson’s “Fences,” about an African-American family in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in the 1950s.
Ms. Davis’ win at the ceremony Sunday night at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium was expected — she already has a Golden Globe Award and is a favorite to take home an Oscar. But even Mr. Washington expected Casey Affleck’s name to be called for “Manchester by the Sea.”
Mr. Washington said he hadn’t prepared anything because he expected “that young fella” to take home the award voted on by his peers. Then he began his thanks with the same speech he shared with a screening for “Fences” cast and crew in Pittsburgh, placing the name of Pittsburgh native August Wilson among the America’s greatest playwrights.
The cast of “Hidden Figures” rocketed to the Screen Actors Guild top award at a fiery, protest-laden ceremony that was dominated by defiance over President Trump’s sweeping immigration ban.
An uplifting drama about African-American mathematicians who aided NASA’s 1960s space race, “Hidden Figures” was the surprise best-ensemble winner. With the Oscar front-runner “La La Land” not nominated in the category, most expected a contest between “Moonlight” or “Manchester by the Sea.”
“This story is about unity,” said Taraji P. Henson, who stars alongside Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae in “Hidden Figures.” “This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins. Every time.”
The ceremony was peppered with speeches that argued passionately for inclusion. In a very well dressed version of the demonstrations sparked nationwide over the weekend, most award winners spoke in some way — either through personal anecdote or a call to arms — against Mr. Trump’s halting of immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
The most blistering speech was by David Harbour, who led the cast of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” — another big surprise winner — on stage to accept best ensemble in a TV drama series. “We will hunt monsters,” Harbour vowed in lengthy remarks that drew a standing ovation.
The hit Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” won best ensemble in a comedy series for the third straight year.
A pair of veteran actors took other TV honors: John Lithgow for best actor in a drama series (“The Crown”) and Bryan Cranston for his Lyndon Johnson portrayal in the HBO movie “All the Way.” Sarah Paulson (“The People v. O.J. Simpson”) and Claire Foy (“The Crown”) also took home awards.
“La La Land” may have tied an Oscar record with 14 nominations, set a Golden Globes record with seven wins and won the top prize at Saturday’s Producers Guild Awards, but it wasn’t competing for the top Screen Actors Guild award. That means if Damien Chazelle’s musical is to go on to win best picture, it will be just the second film to do so without a SAG ensemble nod in the category’s history. Only Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” managed it in 1996.
Actors, the largest group in the motion picture academy, hold considerable sway. SAG, though, is much larger, with about 160,000 members, compared to about 1,200 actors in the academy.
Lily Tomlin was the lifetime achievement honoree Sunday.
Sharon Eberson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1960. Twitter: @SEberson_PG. The Associated Press contributed.
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