From SAG Awards to Sundance, diversity makes a comeback

In a flurry of wins at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Sundance Film Festival, diversity made a comeback.

See Full Article

Over just a few hours Saturday night, the SAG Awards and Sundance showered their honors on a parade of performers and films that presented a stark contrast to the crisis that has plagued the Oscars. Shortly after the screen actors handed out awards to Queen Latifah, Uzo Aduba, Viola Davis and Idris Elba (twice), Nate Parker's Sundance sensation "The Birth of a Nation," a drama about Nat Turner's slave rebellion, swept the festival's awards.

The two ceremonies, in Los Angeles and Park City, Utah, offered a night of reprieve from weeks of rancor over systemic inequality in the movie business and a second straight year of all-white Academy Award acting nominees.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV," said Elba in his third trip on stage as a presenter at the SAG Awards. His first two were to accept awards for his supporting performance in the Netflix child soldier drama "Beasts of No Nation" and for his lead performance in the BBC miniseries "Luther."

Soon thereafter, at Sundance, Parker took the festival's grand jury prize and its audience award.

"Thank you, Sundance, for creating a platform for us to grow, in spite of what the rest of Hollywood is doing," said Parker, whose directorial debut sold for a record sum to Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The SAG Awards top honor, best ensemble in a film, went to the newspaper drama "Spotlight," which came into Saturday badly in need of some momentum. The ensemble award had seemingly come down to "Spotlight" or Adam McKay's high finance tale "The Big Short," which last week took the Producers Guild's top award. The win assures a competitive and unpredictable Oscars finale, with "The Martian," ''The Revenant" and "Mad Max: Fury Road" also in the mix.

"No way," said Mark Ruffalo, one of the stars of "Spotlight."

He praised the writer-director Tom McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer for their purposeful accuracy in penning the journalistic procedural about the Boston Globe's reporting on sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The two, he said, "took every single opportunity to tell the truth. They didn't take any cheap way. It was always the truth."

Elba made no direct reference to the uproar that has swept through Hollywood in the last two weeks, which might have been less severe had he been nominated by the Academy Awards, as many expected. But it was on the minds and tongues of seemingly everyone in Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium.

Accepting the most outstanding ensemble award in a comedy series for Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black," co-star Laura Prepon gestured to the cast of the prison comedy standing behind her.

"Look at this stage," said Prepon. "This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity."

SAG winners for individual performances the last three years have corresponded with eventual Academy Award winners. Thus Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Revenant"), Brie Larson ("Room") and Alicia Vikander ("The Danish Girl") all cemented their status as Oscar favorites. Each won, as expected.

But supporting actor will differ this year. The category's perceived favorite is Sylvester Stallone for the Rocky sequel "Creed." Stallone, though, wasn't nominated by the screen actors.

Actors make up the largest branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which is why the SAG Awards are a closely watched harbinger of the Oscars. But the Screen Actors Guild is massive by comparison: some 160,000 members to the academy's 6,000-plus. Voting for the SAG Awards, which concluded Friday, also overlapped with the widespread debate over the industry's inclusiveness that followed Academy Awards nominations.

Latifah gave one of the evening's most stirring speeches while accepting the award for most outstanding female performance in a TV movie or miniseries for HBO's Bessie Smith tale "Bessie."

"I hope that anyone out there who does not come in the package that people say you should, keep fighting for it," said Latifah. Backstage, Latifah added: "Hopefully our business will continue to supply the demand that people are asking for. The people want it. Give it to the people."

Aduba, accepting her second straight SAG Award for best actress in a comedy in "Orange Is the New Black," praised creator Jenji Kohan for making "a show that reflects and represents so many people."

For the third time, "Downton Abbey" won best ensemble in a drama series. Best actor in a TV comedy went to Jeffery Tambor for the acclaimed Amazon series "Transparent." Kevin Spacey won his second SAG Award for "House of Cards."

The great comedian Carol Burnett accepted the SAG lifetime achievement award from presenters Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Recalling the uphill battle she faced, Burnett remembered being warned that "comedy variety is a man's game." She then dramatically shook her head and mouthed: "No."

Davis, who in September became the first African American to win best actress at the Emmys, won again for her performance in "How to Get Away With Murder." She reminded that "diversity is not a trending topic."

"All of the actors of color I know don't place any limitations on themselves," said Davis. "So regardless what is going on with the academy, what is going on with Hollywood, they will find a way to be excellent. We always have and we always will."


Latest Entertainment News

  • Take a look: A 'Reading Rainbow' in the digital age

    Entertainment CTV News
    MIAMI -- Take a look, it's in a book -- and on a computer, tablet and phone: A "Reading Rainbow." More than three decades after the program to encourage reading among children first aired on PBS, the show's longtime host, LeVar Burton, is now focusing his efforts to promote literacy in the digital realm. Source
  • Famous Lebanese singer, composer Melhem Barkat dies

    Entertainment CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Lebanon's state news agency says Lebanese singer and composer Melham Barakat, who was highly esteemed and popular across the region, has died. National News Agency said Barakat, 71, died Friday at a Beirut hospital where he was admitted weeks earlier. Source
  • J.K. Rowling's Cormoran Strike series moving ahead with HBO

    Entertainment CBC News
    Move aside wizards, J.K. Rowling's private detective Cormoran Strike is headed to the screen. HBO has acquired U.S. and Canadian rights to a limited TV series based on the Harry Potter creator's bestselling trio of gritty, gruesome mystery novels about a war vet-turned-private detective. Source
  • Prison for hacker who stole celebrities' nude photos, videos

    Entertainment CTV News
    HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to a year and a half in prison for hacking into the email and online accounts of several female celebrities and stealing private information, including nude photos and videos. Source
  • Amy Schumer responds to Beyonce 'Formation' video backlash

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Amy Schumer never intended her take on Beyonce’s Formation to be considered a parody. The actress was joined by Goldie Hawn, Joan Cusack and Wanda Sykes for the video, which was posted on Tidal last week. The clip showed the women looking shipwrecked and covered in dirt in a jungle while dancing along to the track. Source
  • Sam Roberts Band, Michael Buble, The Pretenders and Oasis reissue tops this week's new music

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    CAN-CON Sam Roberts Band TerraForm They’re looking up at the stars with their feet on the ground. Assisted by co-producer Graham Walsh of Toronto electronic experimentalists Holy F---, singer-guitarist Roberts and his longserving crew explore spacier musical realms on their seventh studio disc — while keeping their lyrical focus firmly anchored in topics like love and personal growth. Source
  • The scariest movie scenes ever from 'The Shining' to 'The Exorcist'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Fear, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Something that might scare the poop out of me could be yawns and eye rolls for you, and vice versa. (I don’t mean literally scare the poop out of me, by the way. Source
  • Moonlight shines with a searing coming-of-age tale, says CBC's Eli Glasner

    Entertainment CBC News
    "Who is you, Chiron?" It's a question that gets to the heart of the new movie Moonlight — a film about identity, about trying to belong and about our hidden self. This new film from director Barry Jenkins explores a life told in three parts and starring three separate actors as Chiron, an African-American growing up in the housing projects of Miami. Source
  • Affleck tells 'kid brother' New Hampshire to vote in election video

    Entertainment CTV News
    CONCORD, N.H. -- Ben Affleck is calling on New Hampshire residents to get out and vote in the upcoming election. In a new video, the Boston-born Affleck describes New Hampshire as his "kid brother," while talking in a distinctly Boston accent about how much he loves the state. Source
  • Paris concert hall unveils new facade 1 year after attacks

    Entertainment CTV News
    PARIS -- The Bataclan concert hall has unveiled its new facade almost a year after being one of the targets of the deadly attacks that killed 130 people in Paris. After months of renovation work, the name of the concert hall, in large, red letters, is back on top of the main entrance. Source