Screen Actors Guild gave top prizes to the stars of the fact-based Nasa drama and the sci-fi show while powerful speeches against Donald Trump took center stage
Benjamin Lee in New York / The Guardian – January 30, 2017
The stars of Hidden Figures and Stranger Things were the big winners at this year’s Screen Actors Guild awards while political speeches dominated the evening.
The cast of the drama based on a true story about three women who played an integral role at Nasa won the big prize of the night for best ensemble in a motion picture. Accepting the award, star Taraji P Henson said: “This story is of unity and this story is about what happens when we put our differences aside … Love wins.”
One of the film’s stars, Mahershala Ali, won the award for best supporting actor for his role in Moonlight, while Claire Foy and John Lithgow both won dramatic television awards for roles in the Netflix hit The Crown and the cast of Stranger Things won for best ensemble in a drama series.
David Harbour, who plays Jim Hopper in the 80s-set adventure, gave a rousing speech on the importance of inclusion. “We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no home,” he said. “We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters. And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Jim Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy what we have envisioned for ourselves and the marginalized.”
A visibly upset Ali, who remains the firm favorite to win an Oscar next month, delivered an emotional and topical speech about acceptance. “What I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is seeing what happens when you persecute people,” he said. He talked about converting to Islam yet maintaining a close relationship with his mother, an ordained minister, and begged people to also put aside their religious differences.
Emma Stone won the award for best female actor in a lead role for La La Land and after discussing her insecurity in her profession, she spoke about the importance of bringing joy to people given that “we’re in a really tricky time at the moment in our country”. Denzel Washington received the award for best male actor in a leading role for his role in Fences after many predicted Manchester by the Sea star Casey Affleck would win. Washington’s co-star, Viola Davis, was the night’s other big screen winner, named best female actor in a supporting role and she dedicated her award to playwright August Wilson for honoring the average man.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the award for best female actor in a comedy series for Veep and made jabs at the vote being hacked by the Russians as well as the crowd size at the event itself. She also made a passionate reference to Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration. “This immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American,” she said before reading out an official statement on the matter from the Writers Guild of America.
The 37-strong cast of Orange Is the New Black won the prize for ensemble in a comedy series for the third time. Taylor Schilling led a speech that reminded the audience that they represented “generations of people who have sought a better life here”.
Sarah Paulson picked up the award for best female actor in a television movie or limited series for The People vs OJ Simpson and gave a plea for people to donate to the ACLU “to protect the rights and liberties of people across this country”. Backstage she added: “Silence is not golden at this time.”
Bryan Cranston, winning for his role as Lyndon B Johnson in the television movie All the Way, also spoke about Trump’s presidency. “I’m often asked how would LBJ think about Donald Trump,” he said. “I honestly feel that 36 would put his arm around 45 and earnestly wish him success and also whisper in his ear something … ‘Just don’t piss in the soup that all of us gotta eat.’”
John Lithgow’s role as Winston Churchill in breakout Netflix drama The Crown won him the award for best actor in a drama series and after thanking those involved in the show, he also thanked Meryl Streep. He said her Golden Globes speech, where she criticized Trump’s bullying tactics, represented his “exact thoughts”.
The awards act as a strong indicator of success at the Academy awards, taking place on 26 February. Earlier this week, La La Land scored 14 nominations while Arrival and Moonlight followed with eight each.