Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” made history Sunday at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, becoming the first foreign-language film to win the ceremony’s top prize: best cast in a motion picture.
Despite its accolades, including several Oscar nominations, the thriller has found itself on several snub lists this award season as its actors have largely been overlooked for major awards. But “Parasite” was clearly a crowd favorite at this year’s SAG Awards – the cast received two standing ovations – and its victory (over heavily nominated contenders including “Bombshell” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”) makes this year’s Oscars race that much tougher to predict.
Joaquin Phoenix won best actor in a leading role, for “Joker,” continuing a winning streak that has landed him a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award. Renée Zellweger, also a Golden Globe winner for her well-received portrayal of Judy Garland, triumphed over Scarlett Johansson in the leading actress category. The supporting actress trophy went, not at all surprisingly, to Laura Dern – in the midst of an awards season sweep for her turn as a powerhouse divorce attorney in “Marriage Story” – while Brad Pitt took best supporting actor, for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
“Fosse/Verdon” was a standout in the television categories, with leads Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams winning for their roles as Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, respectively, in the limited series/TV movie category. Jennifer Aniston, meanwhile, took the best actress in a TV drama award for “The Morning Show,” beating out “The Crown’s” Helena Bonham Carter and Jodie Comer, whose turn as a complicated villain on “Killing Eve” earned her an Emmy in September. Peter Dinklage won best actor in a TV drama, adding a note of victory to the swan song of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” The top prizes for TV comedy went to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, for “Fleabag,” and Tony Shalhoub for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Here are 10 major moments from the two-hour show, which aired on TNT and TBS.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” cast’s tribute to Brian Tarantina
When Shalhoub took the stage to accept his best actor in a TV comedy award, he dedicated his trophy to his late co-star, Brian Tarantina, who played Jackie, the emcee at the bar where Midge Maisel gets her start in stand-up. Tarantina died of an accidental overdose in November, just a month before the show’s third-season premiere.
“I share this Actor with my fellow ‘Maisel’ castmates,” Shalhoub said. “It is a joy to know you. It is a privilege to work alongside you. And so with your blessings, I will dedicate this to one of our family who we lost this year and who we miss terribly, the most marvelous Brian Tarantina, our brother. Here’s to you.”
Rachel Brosnahan, who plays the comedy’s title role, also paid tribute to Tarantina as the cast accepted the trophy for best ensemble in a TV comedy. “This ensemble extends far beyond those that you see on this stage. We are missing … one really, really important member of our ensemble tonight, Brian Tarantina,” Brosnahan said. “We had such an amazing time here with him last year, so thank you so, so much for this. This is dedicated to him.”
Laura Dern’s sweet moment with her father, Bruce Dern
Before Dern made it to the stage to accept her best supporting actress award, she stopped to give a hug to her father, an Oscar-nominated actor who co-stars in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” “I’m emotional because I got to hug my dad,” she told the audience.
As she reflected on her years in the industry, Dern noted that she “literally, literally would not be here if not for actors,” thanking her dad – and mother (and “Enlightened” co-star) Diane Ladd.
“Thank you for raising me in the community of your friends, on your movies, doing your plays and getting to know the wealth of these extraordinary people,” she told her famous parents.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s stateside farewell to “Fleabag”
Thanking her SAG colleagues for their stateside support of her quirky (and beloved) comedy, Waller-Bridge noted that the team behind the series would be heading back to the U.K. after the ceremony. And despite recent wins at the Emmys and Golden Globes, it appears that the actress-writer is still coming to grips with her success. “This whole thing really has been a dream,” she said. “And if I wake up tomorrow and discover it was just that, then thank you,” she said. “It’s been the most beautiful dream.”
Michelle Williams’ sweet shout-out to her daughter
Williams has made several speeches this awards season, but her Emmy and Golden Globe speeches were notably more political than the acting-centered speech she made while accepting her best actress award for “Fosse/Verdon.” But there was one thing connecting all three speeches: Matilda, Williams’s 14-year-old daughter with the late Heath Ledger.
“Matilda, it’s one thing to be completely honest as an actor,” Williams said Sunday. “It’s another thing to be completely honest as a human being. And that’s who you are and how you live. You teach me just by being you.”
Brad Pitt’s Tarantino joke
Pitt had one of the funniest speeches of the night. He began with yet another joke about his dating life. “I get to add this to my Tinder profile,” he quipped, looking at his trophy.
His speech was at times deprecating – at one point he joked about how on-the-nose his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” role could be from certain perspectives. “It was a difficult part, a guy who gets high, takes his shirt off and doesn’t get on with his wife. It was a big stretch,” he joked – to laughter from the audience, which included his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston.
But Pitt saved the biggest zinger for director Quentin Tarantino, who has been known to have somewhat of a, well, foot fetish. “I’d like to thank my co-stars, Leo (DiCaprio), Margot Robbie, Margot Robbie’s feet, Margaret Qualley’s feet,” he joked before revealing the, um, kicker: “Quentin Tarantino has separated more women from their shoes than the TSA.”
Pitt’s speech wasn’t all jests though – he offered some wisdom gleaned from his three decades in the industry. “I’ve been banging away at this thing for thirty-some years,” he said. “I think the simple math is: Some projects work, some projects don’t and there is no reason to belabor either.”
“Enjoy the evening,” he added. “Because tomorrow it’s back to work.”
Jennifer Aniston’s emotional speech
Aniston looked genuinely shocked – and teary eyed – as she took the stage to accept her trophy for Apple TV Plus’s “The Morning Show.” It was the actress’s first SAG win since 1996 when she shared best TV comedy ensemble with the cast of “Friends.”
“What?! Oh my gosh. This is so unbelievable,” Aniston said. She recalled listening to audiotapes of “Laverne & Shirley” and “Happy Days” episodes as a young girl, and thinking that she wanted to be an actor when she grew up. She eventually landed a Bob’s Big Boy commercial and the rest is history, as they say.
Aniston pivoted to the current project that had earned her the admiration of her colleagues. “Boy, did we get to dive deep into our own experiences and our own history and really be able to breathe life into these extraordinary characters,” she said, before joking: “Who knew that emotional breakdowns felt that good? It really was like, seven months of therapy covering about 20 years of work. So thank you for watching that.”
“I love you, girl. It took 20 years but we did it,” Aniston said to her co-star (and co-producer) Reese Witherspoon. And she offered another shout-out – to Adam Sandler, whose acclaimed work in “Uncut Gems” was left out of this year’s Oscar nominations. “Oh, Adam Sandler, your performance is extraordinary, your magic is real, buddy,” Aniston said. “I love you.”
You are incredible!!! ??? My partner, sister, friend… there are not enough words to describe my admiration. So deserving!! https://t.co/AtbqIJCiZi
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) January 20, 2020
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Aniston and her ex-husband did interact backstage, sending the internet into a tailspin.
JEN AND BRAD I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS pic.twitter.com/AMgakT1MRR
— uma turman… (@DlORCAPRIO) January 20, 2020
Robert De Niro’s subtly political speech
De Niro, recipient of this year’s Life Achievement award, is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, but his speech did not mention POTUS – at least not directly. After reflecting on his craft, De Niro first praised the actors’ union:
“I thank SAG-AFTRA for tirelessly fighting on our behalf for workplace and economic gains and respect. And that especially bears remembering these days when there’s so much hostility towards unions,” De Niro said.
“Political leaders who support unions are more likely to support Affordable Care Act, equitable taxes, humane immigration regulations, a safe environment, a diverse citizenry, reproductive rights, sensible gun control and fair wages and benefits,” the veteran actor continued. “We owe them our support and we owe them our vote.”
De Niro acknowledged that some of his colleagues may have wanted him to steer clear of politics in his speech. “But we’re in such a dire situation, so deeply concerning to me and to so many others, I have to say something,” he said, joking that his recent comments to Variety conveyed his feelings so well he would quote himself.
“There’s right and there’s wrong. And there’s common sense and there’s abuse of power. And as a citizen, I have as much right as anybody, an actor, an athlete, a musician, anybody else, to voice my opinion, and if I have a bigger voice because of my situation, I’m going to use it whenever I see a blatant abuse of power. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that tonight.”
Joaquin Phoenix’s Heath Ledger tribute
Phoenix has been notably averse to many awards shows, even admitting on the SAG Awards stage that he “couldn’t fully appreciate” the ceremony several years ago. But he took the time onstage to honor his fellow nominees, addressing each of them directly as he praised their work. (He also recalled losing several roles to DiCaprio.) Phoenix ended his speech with a nod to another actor who portrayed the Joker: “I’m standing on the shoulders of my favorite actor, Heath Ledger,” he said.
Bong Joon-Ho as a proud dad (er, director)
As the “Parasite” cast accepted its prestigious trophy, the filmmaker sat in the audience, recording the historic moment on a cellphone.
'Parasite' cast receives a standing ovation at the #SAGawards.
No one was prouder and happier than director Bong Joon-Ho, though! pic.twitter.com/zbNvRPqsWo
— Lights, Camera, Pod (@LightsCameraPod) January 20, 2020
Eugene and Dan Levy’s non-host banter
The father-son duo, both nominated for “Schitt’s Creek,” opened and closed the show with witty banter, but – as they reminded us several times – they were not the hosts of the ceremony. (Following the lead of several recent awards shows, the SAG Awards went hostless this year.)
Fittingly, the elder Levy kicked things off with a dad joke – involving a famous toilet paper commercial – that he worked into one of SAG’s trademark “I am an actor” profiles.
— SAG Awards® (@SAGawards) January 20, 2020