It used to be that the procession of awards shows leading up to the Oscars each year were only noteworthy insomuch as they pointed at who might take the prize at the final event of the season. The Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards, and the BAFTAs have long seemed almost averse to making radical or offbeat choices, possibly because they hoped to cement their own significance by offering a preview of who might win the Academy Awards. But as the narrative of this year’s Oscar season has focused on the overwhelming whiteness of that show’s nominees, its smaller siblings have seemed to directly challenge its supremacy. This was particularly plain to see at Saturday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Idris Elba, Queen Latifah, Viola Davis, and Uzo Aduba were among the night’s winners.
Awards season has never been more of a chore—more and more ceremonies are being televised, presenting the same tired film clips week after week to diminishing audiences. But if they’re going to continue (and given advertisers’ love for live televised events you can’t fast-forward through, they will), at least they can serve as pushback to the Oscars, rather than reinforcement. The SAGs, voted on by the 160,000 film, TV, and radio actors of the SAG-AFTRA union, complicated the Oscar race by giving their top prize to Spotlight, and by awarding a coterie of talented actors of color, none of whom will walk the Oscar stage on February 28th.
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