Sunday, May 19, 2024

‘Oppenheimer’ Wins Top Screen Actors Guild Prize

Oppenheimer took top honors at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, as Hollywood stars partied at their union’s first prize-giving gala since staging its longest-ever strike last year.

The prestigious prize for best performance by a cast at the SAG Awards is historically a strong predictor for the Oscars and makes Oppenheimer a formidable frontrunner for best picture.

Christopher Nolan’s epic drama about the father of the atomic bomb also took the awards for best actor for Cillian Murphy, who plays the titular scientist, and best-supporting actor for Robert Downey Jr, portraying his bitter rival.

Oppenheimer has been relentlessly scooping up awards all season.

The movie has already won top prizes at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, and Britain’s BAFTAs.

It now adds the top SAG-AFTRA award for best cast, which has led to recent best picture Oscar wins for movies such as Parasite, CODA and Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Many of the same actors who vote for the SAG Awards also make up the largest voting bloc for the Academy Awards, which will be held this year on March 10.

Oppenheimer saw off Barbie, Killers of the Flower Moon, American Fiction and The Color Purple for top honors.

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In the best actress category, Lily Gladstone (“Killers”) bested her main rival Emma Stone (“Poor Things”) in a closely watched result that throws the Oscars race wide open.

The Indigenous actress, who portrays an Osage woman being exploited by nefarious white neighbours in Martin Scorsese’s 1920s-set epic, began and ended her acceptance speech in her native Blackfeet language.

Supporting actress prizes have been going consistently this season to Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”), and Saturday’s gala was no different.

And Barbra Streisand received a lifetime achievement award, earning a rapturous standing ovation in a rare public appearance for the 81-year-old.

The mood at the gala was celebratory all around, as members of SAG-AFTRA — the union that represents some 120,000 performers, including A-list stars — congregated in numbers for the first time since the strike ended in November.

Kenneth Branagh who picked up the award on behalf of everyone on Oppenheimer recalled how the film’s cast had walked out of their London premiere last July as the work stoppage was about to begin.

“We went from the red carpet and we didn’t see the film that night. We happily went in the direction of solidarity with your good selves.

“So this, this is a full circle moment for us,” he said, to loud applause.

The guild ultimately extracted hard-fought gains including better pay and protections against artificial intelligence (AI) from studios including Disney and Netflix.

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