Screen Actors Guild awards 2022: Squid Game, Will Smith and Coda win big

Netflix phenomenon and Apple’s deaf family drama make history at this year’s SAG awards ceremony

The indie drama Coda has won big at this year’s Screen Actors Guild awards, picking up best ensemble in a movie and best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur, who is the first ever deaf actor to win an individual SAG award.

The Apple drama about a deaf family was bought for $25m from last year’s Sundance film festival and has also been nominated for three Academy Awards, including best picture.

“This validates the fact that we deaf actors can work like anyone else,” star Marlee Matlin said. “We look forward to more opportunities for deaf actors.”

Kotsur saw off competition from Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper and Jared Leto to win the best supporting male actor category and make history as the first deaf winner of a SAG award for an individual.

“Now I feel I’m finally part of the family,” Kotsur said in his speech, which was also signed. “I know you all are artists, and I know you all know what it’s like to be a starving actor. Back then I used to sleep in my car, I slept in my dressing room backstage, I couch-surfed and all of that. You feel me, right? So thank you so much.”

Troy Kotsur also signed his acceptance speech after winning best supporting male actor at the SAG awards.
Troy Kotsur also signed his acceptance speech after winning best supporting male actor at the SAG awards. Photograph: Christopher Polk/REX/Shutterstock for SAG Awards

Will Smith also won his first SAG award – best male actor in a leading role – for playing Richard Williams in tennis drama King Richard. He called the father of Venus and Serena “a dreamer like no one you’ve ever known”, saying it was his “deepest pleasure” to share their story with the world.

Jessica Chastain beat out Nicole Kidman, Lady Gaga and Olivia Colman to win best lead female actor in a movie for televangelist biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

“It was a dream of mine to play Tammy Faye,” Chastain said. “I worked on the project for 10 years and I hope we made the story in a way that she would be proud of.” She continued: “I love my artistic family and my heart is with our international family who is all around the world right now and fighting for their safety and their freedom.”

The Netflix phenomenon Squid Game was another big and historic winner of the night, becoming the first foreign language series to win small screen awards by picking up best male and female actor in a drama series for Lee Jung-Jae and Jung Ho-Yeon.

But the best drama ensemble award went to the acclaimed third season of HBO’s Succession. Brian Cox spent the latter part of his speech paying tribute to the people of Ukraine and to his fellow actors and entertainers in Russia who have been told not to speak out against Vladimir Putin’s regime. “It’s truly, truly awful what is happening,” he said. “I think we should really join in celebrating them.”

Michael Keaton won best male actor in a limited series or TV movie for his turn in Dopesick.
Michael Keaton won best male actor in a limited series or TV movie for his turn in Dopesick. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Michael Keaton was named best male actor in a limited series or TV movie for Hulu’s opioid saga Dopesick and also raised the invasion of Ukraine in his speech. “Zelenskiy deserves some credit tonight for fighting the fight,” he said before tearfully paying tribute to his nephew Michael, who died from fentanyl and heroin use.

Presenter Leslie Odom Jr offered “thoughts, prayers and hope for impending peace” in Ukraine, while nominee Michael Douglas wore a pocket square with the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

Apple’s hit football series Ted Lasso claimed the awards for comedy ensemble and best actor in a comedy series for Jason Sudeikis. Most of the cast were shown via video due to the production’s quarantine guidelines.

Ariana DeBose was named best supporting actress for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s musical remake West Side Story. “It’s taken a long time for me to feel comfortable calling myself an actor,” she said after talking about her background in musical theatre. “I really do believe then when you recognise one of us, you recognise all of us.”

Small screen winners also included Jean Smart for best female actor in a comedy series for the breakout HBO Max series Hacks. “I love actors, nobody gets us, you know?” she said in her speech. “What we do is valuable. We are the tried storytellers … and it’s important and we actually are the world’s oldest profession.”

Smart’s Mare of Easttown co-star Kate Winslet also won best female actor in a limited series or TV movie for Mare of Easttown, but wasn’t at the event to accept the award.

Helen Mirren accepts her SAG lifetime achievement award.
Helen Mirren accepts her SAG lifetime achievement award. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Helen Mirren brought home the SAG life achievement award, introduced by her Collateral Beauty co-star Winslet on video and Cate Blanchett in person. The76-year-old believed that her award was the result of her mantra: “Be on time and don’t be an ass.”

This year’s ceremony required all attenders to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination, at odds with next month’s Oscars. Initial reports had suggested that the Academy was requiring no proof whatsoever, but rules have since shifted. While all nominees and guests must be vaccinated, performers and presenters only need to show a negative test.

Earlier this month, Yellowstone actor Forrie J Smith announced that he would be skipping the SAG awards because of the mandate. “I haven’t been vaccinated since I was a little kid. I don’t vaccinate my dogs, I don’t vaccinate my horses,” Smith said in a since deleted Instagram video. “I’ve never had a flu shot. I never will. I believe they compromise your immunities.”

This year’s Academy Awards will take place on 27 March, with the nominations led by Jane Campion’s film The Power of the Dog.


Benjamin Lee

The GuardianTramp

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