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Spotlight takes top prize at SAG awards as Idris Elba triumphs twice


Story by Jack Foley

JOURNALISM drama Spotlight has taken the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild awards – but diversity proved the biggest winner on the night.

In a year when talk of who will win this year’s Oscars has largely been overshadowed by the row over equality, the SAG awards opted to recognise actors of diverse backgrounds.

And the night proved especially memorable for British actor Idris Elba, who picked up two awards for his roles in the detective drama Luther, and for his supporting role as an African warlord in Beasts of No Nation – a role for which he missed out on an Oscar nomination despite widespread expectancy that he would make the shortlist.

However, the three main acting awards were given to films with mainly white casts – Spotlight, The Revenant and Room, all of which continue to rate among the Oscar favourites.

Spotlight, which follows the Boston Globe‘s investigation of paedophile Catholic priests, won the top award for best film cast, promoting two of its cast members to make impassioned acceptance speeches.

First, Mark Ruffalo highlighted the plight of the many victims the film acknowledges, saying: “[I am] honoured these people, these victims who are dead, and the survivors who are still alive [after] one of the most horrific things that our culture has allowed to happen. This movie allows them to be seen in a world that has been blind to them.”

And then co-star Michael Keaton went one step further, adding: “Honestly, this is not only about the survivors of this horrific situation but for me, personally – and I’m only speaking for me – this is really for the disenfranchised everywhere. This is for every Flint, Michigan, in the world.”

He continued: “This is for the powerless, this is for the powerful who take advantage of the powerless. And you can hang me for that. I don’t really care. That’s why I’m proud to be part of this, thank you very much.

“It comes down to two things: There’s fair and there’s unfair. And I’m always going to vote for the fair, I’m going to pull for the good guys. Thanks for this. This means a lot.”

Of the other main acting awards for film, Leonardo DiCaprio was named best actor for his survival thriller The Revenant, while Brie Larson took the female equivalent for her portrayal of a mother in abduction drama Room. Both are now hotly tipped to replicate their success at the Oscars.

Elba, meanwhile, won the first of his two awards for Beasts of No Nation, beating fellow Brits Mark Rylance and Christian Bale in the best supporting actor category.

While Alicia Vikander took home the best supporting actress prize for her performance in The Danish Girl.

Of the television award winners, female prison series Orange is the New Black won the ensemble award for a comedy series, and its star Uzo Aduba for best comedy actress in a television series.

The series has earned praise for its diverse cast and willingness to address race issues.

Accepting the cast award, actress Laura Prepon referred to her cast mates, saying: “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity.”

Viola Davis, meanwhile, was crowned best actress for How To Get Away With Murder, triumphing ahead of the likes of Homeland‘s Claire Danes and Downton Abbey‘s Dame Maggie Smith.

Downton Abbey did, however, take home its own prize – for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series.

Kevin Spacey won the best actor trophy for House of Cards, which has just been renewed for a fifth season, Jeffrey Tambor was recognised as best actor in a comedy series for Amazon’s Transparent – in which he plays a transgender character.

Elba won his second trophy for outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or mini-series for Luther – once again beating Mark Rylance, who had been shortlisted for Wolf Hall.

And Queen Latifah capped a memorable night for diversity when she took home the outstanding performance by a female actor in a TV film or mini-series for her performance in Bessie.

The winners list in full (winners appear in bold)

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Beasts of No Nation
The Big Short
Straight Outta Compton

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Johnny Depp, Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
John Hamm, Mad Men
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Idris Elba, Luther
Ben Kinglsey, Tut
Ray Liotta, Texas Rising
Bill Murray, A Very Murray Christmas
Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco
Queen Latifah, Bessie
Christina Ricci, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
Susan Sarandon, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
Kristin Wiig, The Spoilers Before Dying

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Jacob Tremblay, Room

*Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theroy
Key & Peel
Modern Family
Orange Is the New Black

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Louis C.K., Louie
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jim Parson, The Big Bang Theory
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent