The SAG Awards kicked off a night full of firsts with a historic win. No longer looking like much of an underdog, Squid Game continued its award season dominance, while CODA walked away with one of the biggest surprises of the night.
Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor to win an individual SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for CODA. During his acceptance speech, he praised Apple TV+ for making sure this film would be accessible to the hearing impaired, ensuring “burned-in closed captioning, providing ASL interpreting services and believing in us deaf actors and casting us authentically as actors who happen to be deaf.”
CODA also took home the biggest award of the evening: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The cast beat out some heavy star-studded contenders, including Don’t Look Up, House Of Gucci, Belfast, and King Richard.
Squid Game also made SAG firsts, with wins for Lee Jung-Jae and Jung Ho-Yeon, who won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor awards, respectively. Squid Game is the first Korean TV show and the first foreign-language series to win in SAG Awards history.
This year’s SAG Awards also played host to the one reunion we’ve been waiting for: Romy and Michele. Yeah, Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow appeared on stage today. Frankly, it’s a little offensive that the crowd of professional actors didn’t burn the building down in celebration, but we’ll let it slide.
To make up for it, SAG awarded Ariana DeBose a statue for her role as Anita in West Side Story. It was her first nomination and win. DeBose also became the first openly queer woman to win an individual film prize. “The Anita that we see on the screen, took every bit of me, but she took ten years to make and I’m extremely proud of her and of our film,” DeBose said during her acceptance speech. “And I really do believe that when you recognize one of us you recognize all of us in a way.”
The rest of the ceremony was a little bit more expected, but exciting nonetheless. Who doesn’t like seeing Jean Smart collect another trophy for her fantastic performance on Hacks? Sure, Jason Sudeikis’ Outstanding Male Actor in a Comedy Series win feels like a forgone conclusion when you consider that only three shows were nominated in his category: Ted Lasso, Only Murders In The Building, and, of course, The Kominsky Method. Ted also Lasso’d an Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy win over The Great, Hacks, Only Murders, and, you guessed it, The Kominsky Method.
On the other side of the comedy-drama mask, HBO cleaned up. Kate Winslet added another award to her Mare Of Easttown pile, winning Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series. In other “adding to the pile” news, Succession took home the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama (not a comedy, thank you very much).
Arriving late to the stage due to a long bathroom line, Michael Keaton gave the most emotional acceptance speech of the night. Winning for his performance in Dopesick, Keaton dedicated the win to his nephew, Michael, who died of an accidental overdose of heroin and fentanyl in 2016.
“Given the subject matter, this is for my nephew, Michael, and my sister, Pam,” he said. “I lost Michael, and it hurts. To my sister Pam, thanks.”
Keaton also used his soapbox to get on his soapbox and talk about what makes being an actor so gratifying.
I have a job where I can be part of a production that actually can spawn thought, conversation, actual change. Who gets to have that job? Seriously? How fortunate am I that good can come from something I do just because I learn to become an actor? There’s massive inequity in the world. In Dopesick, when you talk about addiction, the way to heal the problem is to accept that you have a problem. Not our country. The entire world. Economically, racially, socially, financially. There’s massive inequity in the world. There just is. There’s fair, and there’s unfair. There’s not a lot of room in between.
The actor was aware of how his speech could be perceived. “I can feel the rolling thunder of eye-rolling. People saying things to me like ‘shut up and dribble,’ shut up and act,’” he continued. “The acting, I’ll quit. The shutting up? Not so much.”
Keaton was not the only one to bring up social issues. The broadcast opened with an acknowledgment of the crisis in Ukraine, and they would continue throughout. Brian Cox, accepting the award on behalf of the Succession cast, however, reminded audiences “what’s happening in Russia to my fellow actors and actresses and performers and writers and critics.”
“They are told, under pain of high treason, that they cannot say a word about Ukraine. And I think that is pretty awful,” he continued. “And I think we should all stand together. And also for those people in Russia who don’t like what’s going on, particularly the artists, I think we should really join in celebrating them and hoping they can actually make a shift, as I believe they can.”
After Keaton left the stage, an announcer introduced Jeff Goldblum, who can reset any broadcast no matter how upsetting. Goldblum presented the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, and Jessica Chastain won that award for The Eyes Of Tammy Faye.
Finally, we are pleased to report that Will Smith won his first SAG Award for King Richard. With tears in his eyes, he called the win, one of the greatest moment of his career because his “name was called for King Richard while sitting next to Venus Williams.”