Dare we declare...
The 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards, while not a rip-roaring laugh fest (well, actually the Tina Fey- and Amy Poehler-helmed tribute to Carol Burnett was a real rib-tickler), was for the first time in a while full of surprises!
Well, there were at least five, and here they are:
1. SAG Doubled Our Pleasure: Idris Elba is just so...cool. And him doubling the number of actors to win two SAG Awards in one night (yes, now there are two) was the best possible revenge against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which passed him over for a Best Supporting Actor nod for Beast of No Nation. Elba's second win came for BBC America's Luther, which, if you've ever seen it, should not surprise you in the least.
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2. Spotlight on the Oscar Shuffle: Some years there isn't a lot of variety when it comes to who takes home the Globe, the SAG and the Oscar for a particular category (see the Christian Bale, Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Hudson, et al. juggernauts of seasons past). And while you just can't argue with some performances, fellow actors decided to crown Alicia Vikander for her supporting role in The Danish Girl, giving her more momentum than Kate Winslet ahead of the Oscars, and Elba's win leaves Best Supporting Actor slightly up in the air, considering Golden Globe winner Sylvester Stallone wasn't even nominated for a SAG. In the Oscar ring with Stallone are Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and Christian Bale, though we'll meet again in the Oscar edition of the jaw-droppers if Sly doesn't score a knockout in the final round.
Furthermore, Spotlight's ensemble win, coupled with its Critics' Choice victory a couple weeks ago, reasserts its place in the Best Picture Oscar conversation alongside the Producers Guild's best film winner, The Big Short, and Leonardo DiCaprio's one-way ticket to Oscar, The Revenant.
3. Oh SAG, Those Anglophiles...: Even the cast of Downton Abbey looked shocked to be winning their third round of Actor statues for best performance by an ensemble in a TV drama. Not that the British series, whose final season is now airing on PBS' Masterpiece Classic, isn't superbly acted. It's just...um, so is Game of Thrones...and if Mad Men isn't the sum of its parts, then we don't know what is!
4. Really? Kevin Spacey?: What's the deal, SAG? No win for Jon Hamm for the final season of Mad Men? Is that some sort of wink-wink in an election year at just how screwed up real politics are along with the TV politics, so why not honor a performance that's...all...about...shadiness...? See, we're just rambling at this point. We really don't get it.
5. "Welcome to Diverse TV": There goes that Idris Elba again, being all dashing 'n' stuff. That was his quip when he returned to the stage after making history as the first man to win two SAG Awards in one night and only the second actor to ever do it. (Alas, he couldn't be the first Brit, because that first actor was Helen Mirren.) And that seemingly off-the-cuff remark indicated that even Elba may have been pleasantly surprised by the way in which the usually pretty stiff SAG Awards tackled the diversity issue (that's always plagued Hollywood but has finally boiled to the forefront), and perhaps he wanted to stick a little joke in there to acknowledge his fellow winners but also keep the mood light.
Actually, frankly, we were at first surprised that the need for major change in the movie-making business (not that the business of television is perfect but it's way ahead of the movies) didn't factor into more acceptance speeches. But then we remembered that the members of SAG were just going about their usual recent business of honoring each other for some damn fine performances. No platitudes, and the only promises made were of more good work to come.
Your move, Academy.