I think we have the four acting winners for the Academy Awards on April 25th. After the SAG Awards last night, it’s pretty clear we know the names on the envelopes. The SAG Awards are incredibly accurate predictors of the Oscars as all Academy voters who are also actors are in the Screen Actors Guild.
The winners are history making, too. Three Black actors, and one South Korean. For the first time, no white actors have won the SAG acting awards for movies. This is an extraordinary moment. Additionally, the two lead actors– Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, are from a movie that wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Then there’s Daniel Kaluuya, who’s had an amazing year playing Black Panther Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Like all the SAG winners, he was told on Thursday that he’d won. Two days later he hosted “Saturday Night Live.” He must have been bursting to tell everyone, but had to keep it a secret.
Yuh-Jung Youn, who played the grandmother in “Minari,” doesn’t speak English well. She’s a star in South Korea. She’s 73, and sort of their Judi Dench. She was nearly in tears when she won last night. And I loved the expression on Glenn Close’s face. She was beaming with happiness for Youn. Everyone on their Zoom looked delighted.
Boseman, of course, is being rewarded for his incredible but short career posthumously. Davis has an Oscar, for “Fences,” but that’s in supporting. This will be her first win as a lead actress. She deserves that statue for her stunning transformation into Ma Rainey. While Frances McDormand is excellent in “Nomadland”– which I think will still win Best Picture– but she has two Oscars and has more or less abdicated. She knows it’s Davis’s moment.
Last night’s wins are particularly poignant while the trial of George Floyd’s accused murderer, Derek Chauvin proceeds, and while we’re in the middle of this insane time of violence against Asian Americans. What better symbols of justice could there be? Seeing those four with their gold statues on April 25th will be an absolute pleasure.