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ICYMI: Highlights from the 2015 SAG Awards

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The Screen Actors Guild Awards never fails to be one of the most entertaining awards shows of the season. Unlike the Academy Awards or Golden Globes, there is relatively little pressure to win at the SAG awards, so the ceremony tends to have a more lighthearted feel. People can get away with edgier jokes and quippy banter, because there's really no stress (unlike the tense atmosphere of the Oscars). One obvious factor that sets this show apart is that it doesn't have a host, instead choosing to rely on the multitude of presenters as sufficient entertainment. And rather than have an abstract selection committee, it is the only show where the actors pick the actors who win—and the awards are even called "actors." It's a pretty cool concept, and the 21st annual SAG Awards lent itself to a memorable night of stars.

Robert Duvall started the night off with a hysterical anecdote about being confused as Gene Hackman by a fan. After that, the camera swung around the audience, and several popular performers including Zach Galifinakis and Jennifer Aniston, delivered short quips, all ending with "I'm an actor". 

Bryan Cranston kicked things off as the first presenter, looking handsome post-Breaking Bad as he presented the winner for "Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy Series" (Uzo Aduba surprised everyone with her first nomination and win for her off-kilter portrayal of 'Crazy Eyes in Orange Is The New Black). 

From there the show launched into a barrage of television and movie awards. Orange Is The New Black picked up another win for best cast, and we still cannot fathom how on earth they managed to get that entire cast to fit on that one stage. Never have we seen a larger, more diverse, and estrogen-fueled cast than up there on that platform accepting the award—and it was fabulous.

Later in the night, the SAG-AFTRA director gave a short but sweet speech on the history of film, and then aired a breathtaking inspirational reel of film depicting scenes from movies and series dating all the way back to the beginning of film, and all the scenes had a common theme: the acceptance of people despite any and all preconceived discriminations (starts around 3 minutes in the below video!).

Eddie Redmayne looked about as shocked as most when they announced his name for the winner of the best actor award for his spot on portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything. His speech was a beautiful tribute to ALS victims, and the "power of love" to trump all else. 

The "In Memoriam" section had us reaching for the Kleenex, and it's still hard to believe that in one year we lost so many amazingly talented, wonderful creatures who touched all our souls in profound ways.

Viola Davis got our vote for most emotional speech of the night, winning for her role in the ABC series How To Get Away With Murder. She valiantly held back tears as she expressed her gratitude for being chosen for such a complex and layered character, despite the fact that she was a "49-year-old dark-skinned African American woman." If the "In Memoriam" didn't have viewers tearing up, this short but sweet oration sure did. 

In between the long list of awards being announced, every cast nominated for "Best cast in a motion picture" got the opportunity to take the stage and present their own films. Birdman would take that category, with Micheal Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, and the entire cast coming up to accept the award. On a side note, I have seen Birdman and I can say that it indubitably deserves all the attention and acclamation it is receiving—there has not been a film quite like this in a long time.

But the biggest kicker of the night? Mark Ruffalo was nominated for, and won, a SAG award for his role in the TV movie The Normal Heart, and though he received several instances of praise throughout the show, he was not present at the awards ceremony. The reason? He was asleep before an early morning shoot, and was lucky enough to be woken up by his family long enough to send out a multiple-part acceptance tweet to his fans. 


All in all, a night to celebrate the art of film and the amazing performances we've witnessed throughout the year.


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