SAG Awards 2020: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises

The Screen Actors Guild Awards are always the first major peer group ceremony of the new year, giving those who make films and television series the chance to celebrate each other. Going into the 26th annual ceremony, which took place Jan. 19, the nominees were a mix of industry veterans and beloved favorite and some newer-comers, notably on the small screen side of the ballot.

With 160,000 voting members, SAG is such a large organization that it can be hard to predict what they may celebrate in certain categories. Both the film and television side of the ballot had seeming favorites and frontrunners going into the race — from “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and Renee Zellweger on the film side, to Amazon Prime Video’s “Fleabag” and Netflix’s “The Crown” for TV — but when that large a populace have a say in the results, anything can happen.

Barring one massive surprise from “Parasite,” the film awards played out as expected, with season champs Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”) and Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”) winning best supporting actor in a motion picture in male and female categories. Also as expected, Renee Zellweger sang happy as best actress for her turn in “Judy.”  Joaquin Phoenix took best actor for “Joker.”

Then, for television, Emmy and Golden Globe darling “Fleabag” only won one of the three categories for which it was nominated (female comedy actor for creator-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge), while “The Crown” won drama series ensemble but both Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter, nominated in the female drama actor category, lost to “The Morning Show’s” Jennifer Aniston.

Here, Variety breaks down the biggest snubs and surprises of the 26th Annual SAG Awards.

SURPRISE: “Parasite,” Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture 

Who could have seen Bong Joon Ho’s socioeconomic thriller “Parasite” creeping up from the basement to pull the rug out from under “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”?  That the actors union would award the night’s top honor to a group of relative unknowns over long-beloved stars and iconic talent like Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio speaks to the undeniable quality and momentum of the South Korean award sensation.
“The story is about coexistence and how we can all live together,” said Song Kang-ho, one of the film’s lead. “To be honored with a best ensemble, it occurs to me maybe we haven’t created such a bad movie,: he joked. Between last night’s Producers Guild Award win for “1917” and this upset,  stakes for the Best Picture Oscar race has been raised. 

SURPRISE: Sam Rockwell, “Fosse/Verdon”
After losing the Emmy to “When They See Us’s” Jharrel Jerome and the Golden Globe to “The Loudest Voice’s” Russell Crowe, Rockwell, himself, was surprised to be standing on-stage to accept the actor statue after his co-star, the Emmy and Globe-winning Michelle Williams did earlier in the ceremony. This marked Rockwell’s first win for the role and last opportunity to be celebrated for it, since the FX biopic was a limited series. It was his first win in TV but career-third SAG win, after picking up the 2018 film ensemble and supporting actor statues for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” He was also nominated at the 26th Annual SAG Awards as part of the ensemble of “Jojo Rabbit.”

SNUB: Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
The previous two times the actor portraying Queen Elizabeth in the Netflix royal family drama was nominated in this category, she won. Both times, she was played by Claire Foy. But in the third season, Colman stepped in to take over the role and seemed a shoo-in to take the trophy. After all, she is already well-decorated for playing royalty: Not only did she earn a SAG nomination last year for her film work in “The Favourite,” but she also won the Golden Globe and Oscar for that role, and she also just picked up the Globe for this role earlier this month.

SURPRISE: Candid Brad Pitt
That Pitt would win for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was a no-brainer, and this final push of momentum from SAG all but guarantees he will climb the stairs at the Dolby Theater and accept the Oscar in February. Pitt’s candor and openness about his life and his work in the speech was what woke up the ballroom and backstage, though. Playing a glorified handyman and stunt performer in “OUATIH” was, Pitt joked, a “huge stretch” for him — after which the SAG show directors directly cut to Jennifer Aniston’s bemused face. In thanking his costars, he listed the feet of Margaret Qualley and Dakota Fanning. “Let’s be honest, Quentin has separated more actresses from their shoes than the TSA,” he said. This version of Pitt, a salty dog who still has his movie star glow, has not been trotted out to such great effect all season.

SNUB: “The Kominsky Method” and “Stranger Things”
Both Netflix shows came into Sunday’s ceremony with three nominations each, tying for second-most nominations by series (alongside “The Crown,” “Fleabag,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Morning Show”). Chuck Lorre’s comedy, “The Kominsky Method,” couldn’t have picked up a trophy for each of its three nominations because two of them were in the same category. (Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas were both nominated in the male comedy actor category, and the show was also up for the comedy series ensemble statue.) But it won neither. And the Duffer brothers’ 1980s-set sci-fi drama, “Stranger Things,” which saw noms for drama series ensemble, male drama actor (for David Harbour) and stunt ensemble, also came up with a goose egg.

SURPRISE: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Even though the Amazon series won this award last year, pundits were predicting “Fleabag” would take it after it won the comedy series Emmy and Golden Globe. Even female supporting actor Alex Borstein was surprised by the win: Taking the stage to accept the trophy, she said she voted for the streamer’s other comedy and didn’t even vote for her cast mates Rachel Brosnahan or Tony Shalhoub, who were nominated in the female comedy actor and male comedy actor categories, respectively, this year. (Shalhoub won his category.) Brosnahan also called this win “a mistake.”

UPDATE: This story has been corrected to reflect Sam Rockwell’s prior two SAG Award wins.

More TV

  • Tony Romo

    CBS Sports Re-Signs Tony Romo in Deal Valued Around $17 Million Per Year

    CBS Sports signed prize football analyst Tony Romo to a new deal, a major step in parent company ViacomCBS’ efforts to strike a new rights pact with the National Football League as its current contract heads toward the end of its term. CBS Sports said the company had signed Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Writers Guild Says It Helped Negotiate 100 Deals for Agent-Less Members

    The Writers Guild of America has asserted that it has assisted in negotiating more than 100 deals in recent months for members without agents. The missive from the WGA West board of directors comes nearly a year after the guild leaders ordered their 15,000 members to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed [...]

  • Hilary Duff

    Hilary Duff Asks Disney to Move 'Lizzie McGuire' Revival to Hulu

    Hilary Duff has posted a statement asking that the planned revival of “Lizzie McGuire” be moved from Disney Plus to Hulu. “I’d be doing a disservice to everyone by limiting the realities of a 30 year old’s journey to live under the ceiling of a PG rating,” Duff wrote on Instagram. “It’s important to me [...]

  • Tan France Jameela Jamil

    TV News Roundup: Tan France, Jameela Jamil Among OZY Fest Headliners

    In today’s TV news roundup, OZY Media announced Tan France, Jameela Jamil and others as headliners of OZY Fest, and Netflix dropped the official trailer of “On My Block” Season 3. DATES Disney Channel‘s second season of “Just Roll With It” will premiere on Sunday, March 15 at 8:45 p.m. The sitcom follows the Bennett-Blatt family [...]

  • Lorraine Toussaint

    Queen Latifah's 'Equalizer' Reboot Pilot at CBS Casts Lorraine Toussaint

    Lorraine Toussaint has joined the CBS’ reboot pilot for “The Equalizer,” Variety has learned. She joins previously announced series lead Queen Latifah and recently announced cast member Liza Lapira. In the reimagined version, Queen Latifah stars as Robyn McCall, an enigmatic figure who uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. Toussaint [...]

  • Ben Schnetzer

    'Y: The Last Man' Series at FX Casts Ben Schnetzer as Yorick

    Ben Schnetzer has stepped into the role of Yorick Brown in FX’s upcoming “Y: The Last Man” series, Variety has learned. He takes over the role from Barry Keoghan, who exited the series at the beginning of this month. The show is based on Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s award-winning DC Comics graphic novel series [...]

  • Herb Dorfman Obit Dead

    Herb Dorfman, Orion Pictures Home Video Executive, Dies at 77

    Herb Dorfman, former Orion Pictures executive and a home video industry veteran, died Feb. 25 of complications from Parkinson’s disease and dementia. He was 77. Dorfman served as head of home entertainment for Orion Pictures from 1987 to late 1996. Orion was a prosperous independent studio in those days that turned out a steady stream [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content