As we get closer to the Academy Awards, Hollywood’s night of nights, it seems like the big winners are anyone’s guess. The season so far has been described by many industry insiders as “wild and unpredictable and filled with snubs, surprises, and underdog winners.”
This was especially true when it came to the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards. Malibu’s Lady Gaga and her film “House of Gucci,” a tale of wealth, murder, and high-priced designer duds, was shut out. In the best actress, actor, and best film categories, it was right up there with the revisionist Western “Power of the Dog,” Kenneth Branagh’s coming-of-age movie “Belfast,” the Williams’ sisters rise-to-fame flick “King Richard” and “Don’t Look Up” starring local Leonardo DiCaprio. But in an upset, best cast and picture went to “CODA” (child of deaf adults,) a story of the only hearing member living with a deaf family. The “Power of the Dog,” which received a whopping 12 Academy Award nods, was nowhere to be seen.
Lady Gaga and others like Jennifer Hudson in the Aretha Franklin biopic, “Respect,” and even a critically acclaimed performance by Olivia Coleman for “The Lost Daughter” were knocked out of the Best Actress category. Instead, the award went to Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
As expected, “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s” Will Smith picked up the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for “King Richard” and I, like many other entertainment reporters, expect a repeat on Oscar night and possibly best pic as well, But “CODA” could change all that.
There was one win for Malibu, and it came from local Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” Ariana DeBose snagged a SAG for best female actor in a supporting role.
Picking up his win for best supporting actor in “CODA,” Troy Kotsur signed his acceptance speech and thanked his wife, signing “I love you.” She responded in kind.
All in all, it was a surprising presentation. Despite the majority of Oscar nominations, “Power of the Dog” has not fared well in the early going. The same goes for Lady Gaga and “House of Gucci.”
Dame Helen Mirren picked up the Life Achievement Trophy to a standing ovation.
She seemed genuinely humbled, saying, “Lifetime achievement, doesn’t that sound so grand?” The triumphant legend thanked the guild for the honor, joking, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to say the word ‘SAG’ at my age.”
In the style stakes, Lady Gaga dazzled in a white satin gown with a perfectly fitted rose gold bustier and was all aglitter in a sparkling diamond necklace and gems.
“Scandal” lead Kerry Washington made a show-stopping entrance, with a head-turning sunflower yellow satin off-the-shoulder gown with a flared skirt and a big, bright bow-in-the-back accent.
As for the guys, many shed their traditional “penguin suits” and sported daring tuxes in a rainbow of colors from baby blue to cool magenta.
While the awards were all about outstanding performances, a crisis overseas was not far from anyone’s mind.
Malibu’s Fran Drescher, who also serves as the SAG AFTRA president, talked about the importance of peace in the world.
The ceremony was sprinkled with prayers and love to Ukraine. Instead of a funny monologue, the opening number was provided by the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka.
In other entertainment news, if you noticed a huge tent on PCH near Santa Monica that was the site of Sunday’s Independent Spirit Awards.
This is a celebration of lower-budget films and lesser-known productions like “Zola” and “C’mon, C’mon.” Not so for the presenters who included Kristen Stewart, Javier Bardem and Andrew Garfield.
This all leads up to the other upcoming Guild Awards, which include directors, writers, Critics’ Choice, and finally, the Oscars on March 27. It could be a very unpredictable year. So stay tuned!