Thursday, April 15

2021 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Chicago 7 Trial Gets Top Honor | Awards and Prizes

The stellar cast of Aaron Sorkin’s 1960s court drama The Chicago Trial of the Seven took top prize Sunday at a virtual Screen Actors Guild Awards, where actors of color, for the first time, took the world by storm. individual movie awards.

The 27th Sag Awards, presented by the Hollywood Actors Guild Sag-Aftra, were a quiet affair, and not just because the non-red-carpet ceremony was condensed into an hour-long pre-recorded broadcast on TBS and TNT.

The victory of Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 marked the first time a movie from any streaming service won the Guild Ensemble Award. Written and directed by Sorkin, the film had been scheduled for theatrical release by Paramount Pictures prior to the pandemic, leading to its sale to Netflix. The streamer is still looking for his first best picture win at the Oscars.

Frank Langella, who plays the judge who presided over the prosecution of activists arrested in 1969 during the 1968 Democratic national convention, drew parallels between the riots of that time and those of today by accepting the award on behalf of the cast.

“‘God give us leaders,’ said the Rev. Martin Luther King before he was killed in cold blood on this very date in 1968, a profound injustice,” Langella said, citing the events leading up to those dramatized in The Chicago Trial. 7. “Reverend King was right. We need leaders to guide us so that we hate each other less. “

Kelvin Harrison Jr appears on screen
Kelvin Harrison Jr appears on screen following the announcement of his Screen Actors Guild award for his outstanding performance by a cast in a movie for The Trial of The Chicago 7. Photograph: AP

The win came over two other Netflix releases, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods, as well as Amazon’s One Night in Miami and A24’s Minari. If Lee Isaac Chung’s Korean-American family drama Minari had won, it would have been the second year in a row that a largely non-English film had won Sag’s top award. Last year the cast of Parasite triumphed, becoming the first cast of a non-English language film to do so.

The Sag Awards are a harbinger of Oscars very often. Actors make up the largest branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Sagittarius winners often line up with Oscar winners. Last year, Parasite won best picture at the Academy Awards, and all of Sag’s individual winners (Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt, Laura Dern, Joaquin Phoenix) also won at the Oscars.

Those awards this year went to a group of all actors of color, which could set the stage for a historically diverse list of Oscar winners: Chadwick Boseman, best male actor for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Viola Davis, best female actress for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Yuh-Jung Youn, Best Supporting Actress for Minari; and Daniel Kaluuya, best male supporting actor for Judas and the Black Messiah.

Viola Davis on Ma Rainey's black ass
Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Photograph: David Lee / AP / Netflix

Of these, Davis’ triumph was the most surprising in a category that in other awards shows has belonged to Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) or Frances McDormand (Nomadland). It is Davis’ fifth individual Sag award.

“Thank you August for leaving a legacy for actors of color that we can enjoy for the rest of our lives,” he said, referring to playwright August Wilson.

As has happened throughout awards season, Best Male Actor returned to Boseman for his final performance. Boseman, who died last August at age 43, had already set a record for most of Sag’s film nominations, four, in a single year. He was also nominated posthumously for his supporting role in Da 5 Bloods and was featured in ensemble nominations for both Spike Lee’s film and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

It was the Sag Awards where Boseman delivered one of his most memorable speeches. At the 2019 awards, he spoke on behalf of the cast of Black Panther when the film won the top award. “We all know what it’s like to be told there isn’t a place for them to introduce you,” Boseman said at the time. “Yet you are young, talented, and black.”

Chadwick boseman
Chadwick Boseman, who died of cancer in August, was voted best actor posthumously for the 1920s blues drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the 2021 SAG Awards. Photograph: Valérie Macon / AFP / Getty Images

Nomadland, the Academy Awards favorite, missed out on a best ensemble nomination, possibly because its cast is largely made up of non-professional actors. Chloé Zhao’s film previously won the highly predictive Producers Guild Awards as well as the Golden Globes. The Chicago Test of 7, chosen for best picture at the Oscars and four other awards, could pose a challenge for the favorite.

In an interview after the Chicago Trial of the 7 award pre-recording, Langella called the virtual experience far more civilized. “I’m in slippers,” he said from New York’s Hudson Valley. “I have no pants,” added her co-star Michael Keaton.

Eddie Redmayne, who plays Tom Hayden in the film, credited Sorkin and casting director Francine Maisler for bringing together such a disparate group of actors, including Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Jeremy Strong, in an ensemble. .

“It was like a clash of different types of music, be it jazz, rock or classical, but all of that came together under Aaron’s direction,” said Redmayne. “He was the director, almost. It was a joy day after day to see these great, different and varied actors fight. “

In the television categories, the sets of Schitt’s Creek (for comedy series) and The Crown (for drama series) were added to his award series. Other winners were Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit), Gillian Anderson (The Crown), Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso), Jason Bateman (Ozark) and Mark Ruffalo (I know this is true).

The awards are typically the highest-profile event for the Screen Actors Guild, though the union’s showdown this year with former President Donald Trump may have drawn more headlines. After the guild prepared to oust Trump (his credits include The Apprentice, Home Alone 2) for his role in the Capitol riots, Trump resigned from Sag-Aftra.

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