“Everything Everywhere All at Once,” an inter-dimensional adventure, nabbed the best ensemble prize at the 29th Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday. It also broke records, becoming the biggest film winner in the history of the show, sweeping nearly every category.
But SAG highlights the small screen, as well as the big. “Abbott Elementary,” a sitcom about teachers in an underfunded public school, won the best TV comedy ensemble statue, while “The White Lotus,” a trenchant look at the over-privileged guests at an Italian resort, took home the best TV drama ensemble honor.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once,” one of the few recent indies to break out in a big way at the box office, dominated the evening with four wins, followed by “The White Lotus” with two victories. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has continued to build momentum during a marathon awards season, racking up top prizes as it barrels toward the Oscars in two weeks. This weekend, it nabbed the Producers Guild Award and last weekend it picked up the Directors Guild Award for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the filmmaking duo behind the absurdist story of a laundromat owner whose life intersects with parallel universes.
An emotional Michelle Yeoh was named best actress for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and took her time at the podium to note what her victory meant for other Asian movie fans. “This is not just for me,” she said. “This is for every little girl who looks like me.” Yeoh went on to say that performers of color and actors from underrepresented communities want a “seat at the table.” “So many of us need this,” she said. “We want to be seen. We want to be heard.”
Brendan Fraser earned best actor honors for his work as a morbidly obese man in “The Whale.” Fighting back tears, Fraser referenced his professional highs and lows in a life in film that took him from the A-list in the 1990s and early aughts to a career downturn that left him off the marquee. “I’ve rode that wave lately, and I’ve also had that wave smash me to the ocean floor,” Fraser said.
A24, the indie studio behind “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “The Whale,” emerged victorious in every film acting category. It was a commanding performance for the company, coming at a time when movies that don’t feature superheroes are struggling to generate attention.
Jason Bateman captured the best actor in a TV drama for playing a money launderer in the final season of “Ozark,” while Jennifer Coolidge received the best actress in a TV drama prize for her turn as a spoiled heiress in “The White Lotus.” Coolidge, a character actress who became a breakout star with the HBO series, thanked creator Mike White for creating her role. “The best gift you can give someone is to change someone’s perspective for the better,” she said.
Jeremy Allen White was named best actor in a TV comedy for his performance as a talented chef trying to save a struggling restaurant in “The Bear,” and Jean Smart won best actress in a TV comedy for her work as a stand-up comic in “Hacks.” Smart, who recently announced that she is recovering from a heart procedure, was not on hand to collect her statue. Her co-star Christopher McDonald accepted on her behalf.
The SAG Awards are being handed out at a tumultuous time for the movie and television business, one that’s found the leading entertainment companies pledging a new period of belt-tightening and layoffs. That comes after many of these conglomerates have been forced to pay off the debt they accumulated after a period of mergers and acquisitions, as well as the costs that came with launching their own streaming services. It also takes place as SAG, and other unions representing screenwriters and directors, are negotiating new contracts, with their members believing that their compensation is being negatively impacted by the new economics of streaming – if agreements aren’t reached, it could lead to labor strikes.
In a nod to the new ways that people are consuming content, this year’s SAG Awards ditched their standard cable broadcast to air on Netflix’s YouTube channel. Beginning in 2024, the awards will air directly on the streaming service’s platform. Unlike the Golden Globes, which are handed out by a small group of journalists, the SAG Awards are far more predictive of future Oscar success. That’s because the prizes are voted on by the 122,000 members of the leading actors union, some of whom also have membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the organization behind the Academy Awards. In fact, eight out of the last 10 lead actor victors at the SAG Awards won the Oscar. Moreover, best ensemble winners such as “Spotlight,” “Parasite” and “CODA” have gone on to win the best picture prize.
The evening had milestone moments beyond “Everything Everywhere All at Once’s” historic tally. Both Yeah and her co-star, best supporting actor winner Ke Huy Quan, became the first Asian performers honored in their categories. “This moment no longer belongs to just me,” Quan said. “It also belongs to everyone who has asked for change.” Quan, a former child star who appeared in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” said he stepped away from the profession because of a lack of opportunities. “The landscape looks so different here than before,” he said.
There were some notable surprises, as well. In an upset, “Everything Everywhere All at Once’s” Jamie Lee Curtis picked up best supporting actress over Angela Bassett, who most awards watchers predicted would win for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Curtis, the daughter of screen legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh Curtis, said she knew that she was considered a “nepo baby,” the buzzy term for children of celebrities who succeed in Hollywood.
“So many people in our industry who are actors don’t get to do this job and you look at nights like this and think: Is that ever going to be possible for me?” Curtis said. “And I know that you look at me and think, ‘well, nepo baby and I totally get it.’ But the truth of the matter is I’m 64 years old and this is just amazing.”
Among the other unexpected twists, Sam Elliott (“1883”) won a best actor in a TV movie or mini-series over the heavily favored Evan Peters (“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”) and Paul Walter Hauser (“Black Bird”), while “George and Tammy’s” Jessica Chastain took best actress in a TV movie or mini-series instead of Amanda Seyfried, the Emmy-winning star of “The Dropout.”
Chastain became emotional in her speech when she recalled the setbacks and blown auditions that actors have to endure before catching their big break. “I just want to tell everyone who might be struggling at home, to all the actors that I get to meet: Keep going,” she said. “You’re one job away. I look forward to working with you. I’ll see you on set.”
Elliott also honored his fellow guild members, calling the prize the most meaningful of his 55-year career because it came “from a group of my peers, many of whom I don’t even know or know only from afar, as a fan who respects their work.”
The show also recognized Sally Field, the Oscar-winning star of “Norma Rae” and “Places in the Heart,” with a lifetime achievement award. Field earned nine SAG nominations throughout her career and won one for outstanding performance in a drama series in 2009 for “Brothers & Sisters.” Field, like many of the night’s winners, emphasized the hardships and economic insecurity that characterizes a career in the performing arts, as well as its rewards.
“Easy,” Field said, “is overrated.”
See the full list of winners below.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
Steve Carrell (“The Patient”)
Taron Egerton (“Black Bird”)
Sam Elliott (“1883”) (WINNER)
Paul Walter Hauser (“Black Bird”)
Evan Peters (“Dahmer”)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
Emily Blunt (“The English”)
Jessica Chastain (“George and Tammy”) (WINNER)
Julia Garner (“Inventing Anna”)
Niecy Nash Betts (“Dahmer”)
Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Carrigan (“Barry”)
Bill Hader (“Barry”)
Steve Martin (“Only Murders in the Building”)
Martin Short (“Only Murders in the Building”)
Jeremy Allen White (“The Bear”) (WINNER)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate (“Dead to Me”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”)
Jenna Ortega (“Wednesday”)
Jean Smart (“Hacks”) (WINNER)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
“Abbott Elementary” (WINNER)
“Only Murders in the Building”
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul”)
Jason Bateman (“Ozark”) (WINNER)
Jeff Bridges (“The Old Man”)
Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
Adam Scott (“Severance”)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Jennifer Coolidge (“The White Lotus”) (WINNER)
Elizabeth Debicki (“The Crown”)
Julia Garner (“Ozark”)
Laura Linney (“Ozark”)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
“Better Call Saul”
“The White Lotus” (WINNER)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”)
Hong Chau (“The Whale”)
Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) (WINNER)
Stephanie Hsu (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Paul Dano (“The Fabelmans”)
Brendan Gleeson (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Barry Keoghan (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) (WINNER)
Eddie Redmayne (“The Good Nurse”)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett (Tár”)
Viola Davis (“The Woman King”)
Ana de Armas (“Blonde”)
Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”)
Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) (WINNER)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Austin Butler (“Elvis”)
Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) (WINNER)
Bill Nighy (“Living”)
Adam Sandler (“Hustle”)
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
“The Banshees of Inisherin”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (WINNER)
Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
“Avatar: The Way of Water”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
“Top Gun: Maverick” (WINNER)
“The Woman King”
Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
“House of the Dragon”
“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”
“Stranger Things” (WINNER)