"Oppenheimer" wins top prize at Screen Actors Guild Awards

“Oppenheimer” continued to streamroll through Hollywood’s awards season on Saturday, winning the top prize, for outstanding cast, along with awards for Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr., at the 30th Screen Actors Guild Awards.

As the Academy Awards draw closer, Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster biopic — already a winner at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs — has increasingly looked like the run-away favorite. The SAG Awards, one of the most-telling Oscar predictors, will only add to the momentum for “Oppenheimer,” the lead Academy Awards nominee with 13 nods.

30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
Kenneth Branagh, Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr. and the cast of “Oppenheimer” at the 30th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on Feb. 24, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images

The SAG Awards don’t always signify Oscar success. Two of the last five winners from the guild (“The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “Black Panther”) lost at the Academy Awards. But in the past two years, all five of the top SAG prizes – best ensemble and the four acting winners – have corresponded with the eventual Oscar winners, including the ensembles for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “CODA.”

That could mean the SAGs offered an Oscar preview in two of the closest contests: best actor and best actress.

The night’s most thrilling win went to Lily Gladstone for female actor in a leading role in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.” No category has been more hotly contested, with analysts evenly split between Gladstone and Emma Stone for “Poor Things.”

But Gladstone won Saturday and the crowd erupted. Stone, too, stood and vigorously applauded. More is riding on Gladstone than perhaps any other Oscar contender this year. Her win would be a first for Native Americans.

30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Show
Lily Gladstone wins best female actor in a leading role for “Killers of the Flower Moon” at the 30th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on Feb. 24, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images

Murphy and Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”) have also been seen as in a neck-and-neck contest. But Murphy has now won at the SAGs, the BAFTAs and Globes, suggesting he has the clear edge heading into the Academy Awards.

Robert Downey Jr. and Da’Vine Joy Randolph each won for their supporting performances, likewise solidifying their status as Oscar favorites.

Downey Jr., accepting his first SAG Award for a movie role for his performance in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” grinned as he accepted the trophy.

“Why me? Why now? Why do things seem to be going my way?” said Downey Jr. “Unlike my fellow nominees, I will never grow tired from the sound of my own voice.”

Both Downey Jr. — who triumphed again over Ryan Gosling (“Barbie”) — and Randolph have emerged as Academy Awards frontrunners. Their wins Saturday should make them shoo-ins.

Randolph’s performance in Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” has been a breakthrough role for the 37-year-old actor. Now, she appears poised to win the Academy Award.

“To every actor out there still waiting in the wings for their chance, let me tell you: Your life can change in a day,” Randolph said. “It’s not a question of if but when. Keep going.”

The 30th Screen Actors Guild Awards, streaming for the first time live on Netflix, got underway with Oscar momentum up for grabs for lead nominees “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.” The host-less ceremony kicked off at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles.

“Personally, I can’t wait to get home and have Netflix recommend this show to me based on all the other stuff that I watch myself in,” joked Idris Elba, kicking off the show.

After more than two decades airing on TNT and TBS to dwindling viewership, Netflix acquired telecast rights to the SAG Awards in early 2023. That meant some different rules, including no ads and permitted bad language. Elba, who kicked off the show on stage, suggested a delicate dance.

“Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in front of Oprah,” said Elba, who promptly added an expletive.

This year’s SAG Awards follows a grueling months-long strike in which the SAG-AFTRA union fought a bitter battle over a number of issues. Much of the work stoppage was prompted over changes in the film and TV industry brought on by streaming and a sea change led by Netflix.

“Your solidarity ignited workers around the world, triggering what forever will be remember as ‘the hot labor summer,'” said Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA. “This was a seminal moment in our union’s history.”

It didn’t take long for the night’s hosts to nab an award of their own. Ali Wong, who sported one of the most eye-catching looks on the red carpet, won best female actor in a TV movie or limited series for the Netflix series “Beef.” Later, her co-star Steven Yeun also won.

“The Bear” likewise continued its awards run, winning best comedy series, and awards for Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri.

The new streaming platform was sure to put even more of a spotlight on one of the most closely-watched predictors of the Academy Awards. Oscar voting wraps Tuesday. The lack of ad breaks meant some notable tweaks. Shortly after winning, many winners were interviewed backstage — sometimes charmingly, sometimes awkwardly — by red-carpet co-host Tan France.

Pedro Pascal, looking very surprised, won best male actor in a drama series for “The Last of Us.”

“This is wrong for a number of reasons,” said Pascal. “I’m a little bit drunk. I thought I could get drunk.”

Barbra Streisand held the audience in rapt attention while accepting a lifetime achievement award, presented by Jennifer Aniston and Bradley Cooper.

“I remember dreaming of being an actress as a teenager sitting in my bed in Brooklyn with a pint of coffee ice cream and a movie magazine,” said Streisand, who recalled being transfixed by “my first crush,” Marlon Brando.

Streisand also took a moment to celebrate the Jewish pioneers of Hollywood.

“Now I dream of a world where such prejudice is a thing of the past,” she said.

Two awards for stunt ensemble were announced during the red carpet. Those went to the stunt performers of “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One,” in the film category, and for “The Last of Us” in television.

By 111 Tech

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