Entertainment

'We are living in a watershed moment': SAG Awards show spotlights women in Hollywood

Show features roster of almost all female presenters, Kristen Bell as inaugural host

24th Annual SAG Awards - Show

Host Kristen Bell speaks on stage at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday in Los Angeles. (Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

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The Western-inspired revenge tale Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri swept the female-focused Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday with wins for best ensemble, best actress for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for Sam Rockwell.

It was almost an exact repeat of the major Golden Globe Awards wins with Gary Oldman also winning best actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour and Allison Janney taking supporting actress for playing Tonya Harding's mother in I, Tonya.

As with many of the awards shows this season, it was the treatment of women in Hollywood that stayed at the forefront of the show, which featured a roster of nearly all female presenters and Kristen Bell as its inaugural host.

"We are living in a watershed moment," Bell said in her opening monologue, which stayed light and mostly clear of politics. "Let's make sure that we're leading the charge with empathy and diligence."

24th Annual SAG Awards - Show

Sam Rockwell accepts the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. (Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

With many prominent men in Hollywood facing accusations of sexual misconduct, virtually every aspect of awards season has been impacted by the scandal — from questions on the red carpet to anxiety over who might win.

Both James Franco and Aziz Ansari two weeks ago won Golden Globe Awards while wearing Time's Up pins before being accused of sexual misconduct and in Ansari's case, aggressive sexual behaviour by an anonymous accuser. Both were nominated Sunday and lost, Franco to Oldman and Ansari to William H. Macy for Shameless.

Rockwell, who beat out his co-star Woody Harrelson for the award, took his moment on stage to give a shout out to McDormand.

24th Annual SAG Awards - Cocktail Reception

From left: Halle Berry, Alvina Stewart and Niecy Nash are seen at the SAG Awards. (Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

"Frances, you're a powerhouse," Rockwell said. "I stand shoulder to shoulder with you and all the incredible women in this room who are trying to make things better. It's long overdue."

Most of the comments in the evening were forward-looking. SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, "This is not a moment in time. This is a movement."

Big television winners included NBC's This Is Us, which took the ensemble award for drama and won Sterling K. Brown the outstanding actor award, and HBO's Veep, which got outstanding comedy ensemble and a best actress win for Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

APTOPIX 24th Annual SAG Awards - Show

Allison Janney accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role for I, Tonya. (Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

HBO's Big Little Lies picked up best actor in a miniseries wins for both Alexander Skarsgard and Nicole Kidman.

"I'm so grateful today that our careers can go beyond 40 years old," Kidman said in her acceptance speech. "We are potent and powerful and viable. I just beg that the industry stays behind us because our stories are finally being told."

The Crown's Claire Foy won best female actor in a drama series for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II.

24th Annual SAG Awards - Press Room

Morgan Freeman poses with his Life Achievement Award. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Lifetime achievement award recipient Morgan Freeman kept his remarks brief after a moving highlight reel of his expansive career and an introduction by Rita Moreno. The Oscar-winner for Million Dollar Baby and four-time nominee has over 80 films to his name.

"I'm gonna tell you what's wrong with this statue," he said as he wrapped up. "From the back it works, from the front it's gender specific. Maybe I started something."

The day's first awards went to Game of Thrones and Wonder Woman, which were honoured for best stunt ensemble honours.

'No longer silenced by the fear of retaliation'

Producers say the female-forward approach was inspired by last year's Women's March, but the show arrived at a time when some of the industry's biggest names are leading the Time's Up and Me Too movements to address gender inequality, sexual misconduct, pay disparities and other issues.

The show comes two weeks after a black-dress protest at the Golden Globe Awards, and several stars including Meryl Streep, Emma Stone and Michelle Williams bringing activists to the show. The SAG red carpet saw the return of colourful frocks and far fewer Time's Up pins — although some actors, like Kumail Nanjiani and Gina Rodriguez, were still sporting theirs.

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Alison Brie, right, who is married to actor Dave Franco, left, said that not all allegations against her brother-in-law James Franco are 'fully accurate.' (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

E! host Giuliana Rancic asked GLOW actress Alison Brie about recent allegations of misconduct against her brother-in-law James Franco (Brie is married to actor Dave Franco).

"I think that above all what we've always said is it remains vital that anyone who remains victimized should have the right to speak out and come forward," Brie said, adding that in the case of Franco, "Not everything that has come forward is fully accurate."

Franco has also called some of the accusations inaccurate, but after two days of facing questions about the claims on late-night television, The Disaster Artist star has kept a lower profile, although he was in attendance at the SAG Awards. He did not attend last week's Critics' Choice Awards.

The Globes were the first major awards show forced to confront the sexual misconduct scandal since it exploded in October with dozens of women accusing Harvey Weinstein of harassment and in some instances, rape. (Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.)

Weinstein accusers Marisa Tomei and Rosanna Arquette used some of their time presenting an award Sunday to name some of the "silence breakers" in the movement including Asia Argento, Annabella Sciorra, Ashley Judd, Daryl Hannah, Mira Sorvino, Anthony Rapp and Olivia Munn.

"So many powerful voices are no longer silenced by the fear of retaliation," Arquette said. "We can control our own destiny."

The SAG Awards are a reliable predictor of the winner for the best actor and actress Academy Awards; this year's show comes two days before Oscar nominations are announced.

While Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri now has the Golden Globe and SAG win to its name, it lost out to Guillermo del Toro's fantasy romance The Shape of Water at the Producers Guild Awards Saturday night, which is often the most accurate gauge of what will ultimately win best picture at the Academy Awards on March 4.

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