SAG Awards: 'Three Billboards' Takes Top Honors at a Show Where Women Took Center Stage

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The cast of 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'

'This Is Us' claimed the TV drama ensemble prize, while 'Veep' took comedy ensemble honors.

At a determinedly woke awards ceremonies that intentionally put women front and center, the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night gave its top honors to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the tale of a woman hell-bent on seeking justice for the rape and murder of her daughter.

HBO’s Washington-set farce Veep won the TV comedy ensemble award for the first time, while NBC’s family saga This Is Us won the TV drama ensemble honors. Speaking for that cast, Milo Ventimiglia offered a special thanks to the show’s fans, “the people who watch with us every Tuesday night and embrace the show that embraces positivity and hope and inclusion, we love you.”

Taking its cue from the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements that have put a spotlight on the need for gender equality, all the presenters at the show were women and, for the first time, the SAG Awards was fronted by a host — The Good Place’s Kristen Bell. “We are living in a watershed moment,” Bell said as she kicked off the proceedings. “Let’s make sure we are leading the charge with empathy and with diligence.”

Appearing onstage later to announce the winner of actress in a miniseries, Rosanna Arquette used her moment to name-check a number of others who, like her, have spoken out about sexual abuse and harassment.

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris also made the theme explicit as she said, “I am incredibly inspired by the women and men across the country who have shared their truths with such courage and such candor. Truth is power, and women are stepping into their power.” She added, “Make no mistake: This is not a moment in time, this is a movement.”

On the film side, the SAG Awards appeared to demonstrate a growing consensus this awards season as they rubber-stamped a group of winners who were also celebrated at the recent Golden Globe Awards.

In addition to its ensemble win — SAG’s equivalent of a best picture award — Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards saw Frances McDormand collect her third individual SAG Award, this for outstanding female actor in a motion picture, for her portrayal of a fierce woman out to challenge a group of small-town cops. As she accepted the award, McDormand paid tribute to writer-director Martin McDonagh, saying, “He wrote, meticulously crafted, a tsunami, and then he allowed his troupe of actors to surf it into the shore.”

The film’s Sam Rockwell, also reprising a Globe win, scored as supporting film actor for playing a dim-witted cop. Accepting his first SAG Award, he said, “My mom and dad were actors. They dragged me to rehearsals at ACT when I was a little baby, and I slowly realized that these people are nuts. I love actors.”

Gary Oldman’s potential path to an Oscar became surer as, after receiving a Globe, he was gifted with a SAG Award, the first of his career, for embodying Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. He concluded his thank-yous by saying, “Churchill reminds us we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give, and you have given enormously tonight, and I am so deeply, deeply honored.”

Following her Globe win, Allison Janney won the prize for supporting film actress for her performance as a stage mother from hell in I, Tonya, and used her moment at the podium to “thank my entire cast, starting with Margot Robbie, who’s so fearless and brave — she’s such a rock star.”

Nicole Kidman also picked up yet another trophy — and her first SAG Award after 10 nominations — as outstanding female actor in a television movie or limited series for her performance as an abused housewife on HBO’s Big Little Lies. She lauded fellow nominees like Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon and other older actresses, saying, “How wonderful it is that our careers today can go beyond 40 years old” as she called upon the industry to continue to fund and support such stories. Her onscreen husband on Big Little Lies, Alexander Skarsgard, who collected the award for male performer in a TV movie or miniseries, appeared slightly surprised himself that he triumphed over other nominees like The Wizard of Lies’ Robert De Niro.

In the drama categories, Sterling K. Brown picked up his first SAG Award for his work as an adopted son on NBC's This Is Us, for which he’s also earned Emmy and Globe recognition. Addressing his fellow actors, he observed, “People call us weird and strange. The truth of it is everyone is weird and strange, and we just embrace ourselves for who we are.” Claire Foy also earned her first SAG Award for her performance as the young Queen Elizabeth on Netflix’s The Crown.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who now plays an ex-president on HBO's Veep, won her third SAG Award for that series, while William H. Macy also won his third SAG Award for playing the reprobate dad on Showtime’s Shameless.

Rita Moreno, who first appeared with Morgan Freeman on PBS’ The Electric Company, was on hand to present the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award to Freeman. In his brief acceptance, the actor said simply, “This is beyond honor. This is a place in history.”

Earlier, on the red carpet, SAG announced that the stunt performers and coordinators from Wonder Woman and Game of Thrones won the awards for outstanding action performances by film and television stunt ensembles, respectively. 

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