The Banshees of Inisherin has had a disappointing evening at the Screen Actors Guild awards (SAG), converting none of its five nominations into an “actor” award. Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan were all up for gongs, but lost out as Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Everything Everywhere All At Once appeared to tighten its grip on awards season just two weeks before the Oscars. The science fiction comedy passed out Banshees to take the prize for motion picture ensemble. Also winning three individual acting awards, Everything Everywhere All At Once is the first film in SAG’s 28-year history to win four Actors. The result was notable for its recognition of Asian performers.
Everything Everywhere even managed to put a halt on Cate Blanchett’s hitherto smooth passage through the awards gauntlet. Michelle Yeoh, the respected Malaysian star of the evening’s big winner, beat Blanchett, triumphant at Bafta and the Golden Globes for Tár, to the award for female actor in a leading role.
Screening on Netflix’s YouTube channel before a formal move to the streaming service next year, the awards allowed us to enjoy an amusingly profane moment as Yeoh, momentarily stuck for words, paused to merrily blurt out an isolated F-word. “I think if I speak my heart will explode,” she said. “Every one of you know the journey – the roller coaster ride, the ups and downs. But most importantly we never give up.”
Brendan Fraser, moving as a morbidly obese man in Darren Aronofsky’s divisive The Whale, beat Colin Farrell to the prize for male actor in a leading role. (Fraser was perhaps, lucky to be in the only individual film category with no nominee from Everything Everywhere). The competition for the corresponding Oscar has, for the last few months of awards season, looked like a battle between Farrell, Fraser and – now the slimmest of favourites – Austin Butler, who plays the king of rock ‘n’ roll in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. “Ian McKellen told me to be good, be brief and be seated,” Fraser, who has had his ups and downs, began in an emotional acceptance speech.
Condon, from Tipperary, was seen as second favourite to Angela Bassett, statuesque in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, in the race for best supporting female actor. Bassett did not win, but it was Jamie Lee Curtis who triumphed for, yes, the all-conquering Everything Everywhere. Curtis, the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, seemed over the moon. “I’m wearing a wedding ring that my father gave my mother. They hated each other in the end by the way,” she said, laughing. “You look at me and think: well, nepo baby. That’s why she’s there. And I totally get it. But the truth of the matter is I’m 64 years old. And this is just amazing.” It looks as if that particular Oscar race is still alive.
There was no such surprise in best supporting actor. Despite losing to Dublin’s Barry Keoghan at Bafta, Ke Huy Quan remains an apparently unstoppable Oscar favourite for Everything Everywhere. First seen, as a juvenile, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Tomb close to 40 years ago, Quan is hugely enjoying his time back in the sun. “I was told that if I won tonight I would become the very first Asian actor to win in this category,” he said from the podium. “Thank you to Jamie Lee Curtis and our entire cast. And lastly to all those at home who are watching or struggling and waiting to be seen. Please keep on going because the spotlight will one day find you.”
The acting branch of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is by far the largest voting section at the Oscars. So the choices of the performers’ professional guild, which has around 120,000 members, are sure to give pointers to those upcoming awards. Last year, all four of the individual film SAG acting winners repeated at the Oscars and the winner of best ensemble took best picture.
Everything Everywhere All At Once’s status as front-runner was further bolstered by a best picture win at the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA) awards on Friday night. Over the last 20 years, 13 winners in this category have gone on to take the corresponding Academy Award. Like the Oscars, the PGA votes on 10 nominees using a proportional system. Success under that process confirms the winning film is capable of picking up second and third preferences to add to its first-place picks.
That noted, in recent year, best picture has proved the most volatile of the big Oscar categories. Anything could still happen. The Irish acting nominees can, at least, relax and enjoy themselves, aware that none is now in the favourite’s seat. Condon, a winner at Bafta, probably stands the best chance after the churn here in best supporting female actor.
The Oscars will be handed out at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 12th.
THE 29TH SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS
Motion Picture Cast: Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Male Actor in a Leading Role – Motion Picture: Brendan Fraser, The Whale.
Female Actor in a Leading Role – Motion Picture: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Male Actor in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Female Actor in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture: Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: Top Gun: Maverick.
Drama Series Ensemble: The White Lotus.
Comedy Series Ensemble: Abbott Elementary.
Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Sam Elliott, 1883.
Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Jessica Chastain, George & Tammy.
Male Actor in a Drama Series: Jason Bateman, Ozark.
Female Actor in a Drama Series: Jennifer Coolidge, The White Lotus.
Male Actor in a Comedy Series: Jeremy Allen White, The Bear.
Female Actor in a Comedy Series: Jean Smart, Hacks.
Stunt Ensemble in a TV Series: Stranger Things.