For the first time in the 27-year history of the SAG Awards, actors of color swept all four film acting awards. The awards were presented on Sunday (April 4). The late Chadwick Boseman won outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Viola Davis won the equivalent award for a female actor for playing blues great Rainey in the same film.
A third Black actor, Daniel Kaluuya, took the award for for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for Judas and the Black Messiah. And Young Yuh-jung, who was born in South Korea, took the equivalent award for a female supporting actor for her work in Minari.
Last year, all four SAG winners for film acting – Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern — went on to win Academy Awards.
Boseman, who died of colon cancer in August, is the first posthumous winner in the lead actor category at the SAG Awards. Moreover, he’s just the fourth actor to win a posthumous SAG Award in any individual performance category. He follows Heath Ledger (male actor in a supporting role for The Dark Knight, 2008); Jerry Orbach (male actor in a drama series for Law & Order, 2004); and Raúl Juliá (male actor in a miniseries or television movie for The Burning Season, 1994).
When the 93rd annual Academy Awards are presented on April 25, Boseman is likely to become the third actor to win a posthumous Oscar. The first two were Peter Finch (best actor for Network, 1976) and Ledger (best supporting actor for The Dark Knight). No woman has ever won a posthumous acting Oscar.
Davis’ win marks the third year in a row that an actor has won a SAG Award in a lead category for playing a famous singer. Rami Malek won two years ago for playing Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Zellweger won last year for playing Judy Garland in Judy. Malek and Zellweger both went on to win Oscars. Davis may well join them, though she is thought to be in a close race with Frances McDormand for Nomadland and Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman.
The SAG Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture went to The Trial of the Chicago 7. The 10 actors who share the award, including Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Keaton, are all men. It’s the first time the winning acting ensemble in this category has included no female actors.
Last year’s winner of the cast award, Parasite, went on to win the Oscar for best picture. But the two awards don’t always go hand-in-hand. Of the 25 previous films to win the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture since the category’s inception in 1995 (the awards show’s second year), 12 went on to win the Oscar for best picture, 12 were nominated for best picture but did not win, and one wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar for best picture. (That was Mike Nichols’ 1996 farce The Birdcage.)
Gillian Anderson and Catherine O’Hara each won two SAG Awards on the night. Anderson won for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series for playing Margaret Thatcher in The Crown. In addition, she shared in the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series. In addition to winning for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for playing Moira Rose on Schitt’s Creek, O’Hara shared in the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.
Jason Bateman won outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series for the second time in three years for his work on Ozark.
The awards were presented in a briskly paced, one-hour show that aired on TNT and TBS. The cast of Ted Lasso opened the show with an awards-themed sketch. AJR’s “Bang!,” a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, was used to soundtrack a montage early in the show.