A week after the most ethnically diverse set of Oscar nominations in recent history, the latest back-slapping ceremony in Hollywood has raised the prospect that people might soon be tweeting under the hash-tag “Oscars So Black”, after two years in which critics said the Academy had white-washed the industry.
The Screen Actors Guild Awards are traditionally a fairly reliable indicator of who might win the acting Oscars, because actors make up such a large proportion of the Academy’s voting membership, and black actors have walked away with every film prize in which they were nominated.
At a ceremony where many of the speeches had political undertones, whether explicitly directed towards Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, or more generally towards his politics, the award traditionally seen as a pointer towards the Best Picture Oscar, SAG’s Best Ensemble Cast, went to Hidden Figures, about three black women mathematicians who helped to get men into space in the early years of NASA.
Denzel Washington, already twice an Oscar winner, could be on his way to a third, directing himself to the Best Actor honours for Fences. His co-star, Viola Davis, was named Best Supporting Actress, beating two other black actresses, Octavia Spencer and Naomie Harris, to the Actor trophy. The Best Supporting Actor Prize was handed to Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali.
The only film award of the night that didn’t go to a black star was Best Actress, a category in which none was nominated. Emma Stone won for the Oscar-favourite La La Land. But next month, she’ll face competition from the black nominee Ruth Negga, for the civil rights era drama Loving.
Like the recent Golden Globes ceremony, the Screen Actors Guild Awards also honour television. The 1980s set Stranger Things beat The Crown to the Best Ensemble in a Drama Series prize, but in the individual awards, The Crown triumphed with Claire Foy being named Best Actress in a Drama Series and John Lithgow winning the Best Actor in a Drama prize.
The TV comedy awards went to Orange is the New Black, William H Macy for Shameless and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep.
The other acting awards round up the best performances in television movies and limited TV series, with the prizes going to Bryan Cranston for his portrayal of President Lyndon B Johnson in All the Way and Sarah Paulson, as the prosecutor Marcia Clark in The People v OJ Simpson.
Hacksaw Ridge won the film stunt award, while its TV equivalent went to Game of Thrones.
The Screen Actors Guild honoured the comedian and actress Lily Tomlin with a Lifetime Achievement award.