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Will Smith and "CODA", deaf actors, big winners at the SAG Awards

The deaf family drama "CODA", which was written and performed by the Deaf, won the top honors at the 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards.

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Will Smith and "CODA", deaf actors, big winners at the SAG Awards

This award ceremony saw the unexpected and historic wins of the "Squid Game" cast and "Ted Lasso", and Will Smith.

The ceremony was held at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica (California) and was broadcast on TNT and TBS. It featured historic wins for Korean actors and Hollywood stars, as well as notable border-breaking. It culminated in Sian Heder's touching Apple TV+ coming of age film, "CODA", featuring three deaf actors, Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur, as well as newcomer Emilia Jones. Emilia Jones won best ensemble. It has been regarded as a landmark film for Hollywood's deaf community.

"This confirms that deaf actors can perform just like any other. Matlin, who was addressing the crowd in sign language to say "I love You", said that they look forward to more opportunities.

Matlin is the only Deaf actor to win an Oscar. However, her "CODA” co-star, Kotsur may soon be joining her. Kotsur was awarded best supporting actor Sunday. He became the first individual SAG award-winning deaf actor. The 53-year-old veteran actor sank his head into his hands when his name was called. He thanked his wife for reminding him to check his fly before he walked the red carpet.

Netflix's "Squid Game" was the first non-English-language series to be nominated by the actor guild. It won three awards including Lee Jung-jae, for best male actor, and Jung Hoyeon, for best female actor, in a drama serial. These wins were over the likes Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox of "Succession", and Reese Witherspoon from "The Morning Show."

Jung, fighting back tears, said that he had sat on many occasions watching you on the big-screen dreaming of becoming an actor.

Still, HBO's "Succession," won the category for best drama series. Cox accepted the award with an expletive written on his face mask and another as he tried to remove it. Cox became serious when he discussed Russia's invasion in Ukraine. He made the most blunt remarks about the invasion in the evening, noting that Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a comedian and, therefore, was a fellow performer. He encouraged Russia's censored dissidents to speak up.

Cox said, "The people of Russia who don’t like what’s happening - and especially the artists – I think we should celebrate them and hope they can make a change, as I believe that they can." The audience applauded and stood.


The SAG Awards are one of the best predictors for the Academy Awards. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has the highest percentage of actors, and their picks are often in line. They matched perfectly in 2020 when Brad Pitt and the cast of "Parasite” won.

Although the actors guild and the academy disagreed last year when Aaron Sorkin’s 1960s courtroom drama, "Trial of the Chicago 7", won the SAG Awards while "Nomadland” won at the Oscars. The win for "CODA” suggests that it is a serious threat to win best picture over Kenneth Branagh’s "Belfast" which went winless Sunday and Jane Campion’s leading Oscar nominee "The Power of the Dog", which failed to receive an ensemble nomination despite three of its actors had been individually nominated.

SAG's track record could also indicate that Will Smith, the star of "King Richard", a Williams family tennis drama, is headed for his first Oscar. Smith won best actor and was awarded his first SAG award.

Smith said, "That was one of the most memorable moments in my career because my name was called for King Richard sitting next to Venus Williams."

It has been harder to track the category of best actress. Many people have seen Olivia Colman ("The Lost Daughter"), as the favorite to win her 2nd Oscar. In a highly competitive category, the snubbed often draw the most attention. Kristen Stewart of "Spencer", while Lady Gaga ("House of Gucci") was overlooked by SAG.

Jessica Chastain, the famous televangelist from "The Eyes of Tammy Faye", won Sunday's SAG award. This was her first individual SAG nomination. No category is more uncertain heading into the Oscars, March 27.

Ariana DeBose, from "West Side Story," was confirmed as the frontrunner with Sunday's win for best supporting performance of a female actor. DeBose won a historic award.

DeBose said, "It's indicative of doors opening." It's an honor for me to be there, it's an honour to be Afro-Latina, openly queer woman, dancer, singer and actor. It is a sign to me that I won't be the last. That's the important part.

SAG-AFTRA, the Hollywood actor guild, will present the SAG Awards. They will be streamed Monday on HBO Max. They were the first major, televised in-person awards show for Hollywood after the January Golden Globes. This year, they will be available to stream on HBO Max. The broadcast began with the theme "together again" by the "Hamilton" trio, Lin-Manuel Miranda Jr., Leslie Odom Jr., and Daveed Diggs.

Odom Jr. stated, "We've returned in a world where all you have to do is get dressed up and show up, get sanitized and screened masked, vaccinated quickly, tested, PCR-cleared within a matter of hours."

Casts were unable to attend due to quarantine regulations. However, some casts attended remotely, including Ted Lasso, the lead TV nominee. Jason Sudeikis accepted his award for best actor as a comedian series by appearing via video link with his castmates. Later, the Apple TV+ show won best comedy series ensemble.

Although the Academy Awards don't require vaccination for presenters (only attendees), the requirement was for the SAG Awards. These awards are voted by SAG-AFTRA, the Hollywood actor's guild. Jean Smart of Hacks, Kate Winslet of Mare of Easttown, and Michael Keaton of Dopesick were also awarded. Keaton dedicated his award to Michael's nephew. Keaton previously stated that he died in 2016 from heroin and fentanyl use.

Helen Mirren, "The Queen", was also honored at the SAG Awards. A lifetime achievement award was presented to the five-time SAG winner.

Mirren, 76, stated that any accomplishment in my life has been due to her mantra: "Be on time and don’t be ass," Thank you, S-A -G, for this. At my age, I don't like to use the word "sag".


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