HOLLYWOOD—Now the Golden Globes delivered a few surprises, this awards season, but let’s be honest the Screen Actors Guild Awards have a bigger pulse on where things could be headed come Oscar night. Why? Well, most of the members are actors, and the actors branch is the largest constituent of the Academy meaning who they pick as they winners could ultimately determine who walks home with an Oscar people!

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards was held on Sunday, January 29, and seeing the winners of TV was much fun, but I’ve always been a bigger fan of seeing who the winners are in the movie arena. Why? Some people nominated for Oscars weren’t nominated for SAG awards. So it makes the predictions a bit more intriguing to say the least.

The ceremony kicked off per usual with actors chronicling funny and sentimental stories about reaching for their dreams which included Kerry Washington, Jeff Bridges, Sterling K. Brown, Ellie Kemper and Ashton Kutcher. A lot of those speeches were quite comedic and packed a punch with a lot of political talk in the midst of President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry for refugees and immigrants into the United States.

The first prize of the night for Female Actor in a Comedy Series went to Julia Louis-Dreyfuss for “Veep,” and decided she wanted to poke fun with the previous election, and talked about democracy and the immigrant ban that received a thunderous applaud. The ‘actor’ for Male Actor in a Comedy Series went to William H. Macy for “Shameless.” The award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series was presented by the youngsters of “Stranger Things” to the cast of “Orange is the New Black.” Bit of a surprise as I was thinking that perhaps, “Black-ish” might win the prize.

"Hidden Figures" won the SAG award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Motion Picture.
“Hidden Figures” won the SAG award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Motion Picture.

A big award of the night Female Actor in a Supporting Role went to a deserving Viola Davis for her riveting turn in “Fences.” Davis’ speech paying tribute to playwright August Wilson was powerful. It was a win for Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight.” Ali’s speech was thought-provoking, moving and really struck a chord with the audience and a viewer. That may have been one of the most powerful speeches I’ve witnessed at an awards ceremony in years.

The SAG award for Female Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Miniseries went to Sarah Paulson for “The People Vs O.J. Simpson,” while in an upset Bryan Cranston won for Male Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Miniseries “All the Way.” Country-darling Dolly Parton received a thunderous applause as she took the stage to pay tribute to Lifetime Achievement prize to her “9 to 5” co-star Lily Tomlin. I really had no idea how funny Tomlin is as an actress; her range is more far-reaching than many people know. Per usual Tomlin made jokes to lighten the mood in the room.

After what seemed like a long-break, things returned to the TV side with the SAG award for Male Actor in a Drama Series being handed to John Lithgow for “The Crown.” He gave a very class speech giving kudos to Meryl Streep for her riveting speech at the Golden Globes a few weeks ago. Now, the category for Female Actor in a Drama Series was a race that I was absolutely looking forward to with the riveting performances by the actresses in this particular race. It was a duel indeed, but Claire Foy took the win for “The Crown.” The prize for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series went to “Stranger Things,” leading to an explosion from the cast and the audience. The look on Winona Ryder’s face as her co-star delivered his speech was hilarious, but the response from the crowd said it all.

Two of the most contested races Male Actor and Female Actor in a Leading Role proved that it’s anyone’s race come Oscar Sunday. In the end, it was Emma Stone who finally got a bit of love for “La La Land.” I mean Stone is an underrated actress, whose talents are greater than what many know. It was apparent Emma was nervous while on stage, but managed to deliver a few laughs along the way. I think it’s a race between Stone and Natalie Portman for “Jackie,” for the Best Actress Oscar. However, Isabelle Huppert is a major threat people!

It was a race between Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington, but in the end Washington claimed the prize that lead to a stunned reaction from the actor, whose was slightly fluttered while on stage, but managed to deliver as an actor always does.

Nicole Kidman presented the prize for Outstanding Ensemble in a Motion Picture to a stunned cast of “Hidden Figures.” Ok, now Oscar looks to be quite interesting people. Between “La La Land,” “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures.” Speaking on behalf of the cast, was Taraji P. Henson, who was eloquent in her speech. How much power will “Hidden Figures” have with this win, it is too be determined people.

The SAG Awards have shown us that the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress races have clear front-runners, however, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture will indeed bring surprises I suspect. I am surprised by the complete shut-out of “Manchester by the Sea” that came into the race leading all contenders with 4 nominations. Things are getting interesting people!