LOS ANGELES: Brad Pitt and Laura Dern took home prizes at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards on Sunday, as Hollywood’s awards season began to shape up ahead of the Oscars next month.
Pitt won for his supporting role as a charming stunt man in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” while Dern was named best supporting actress for playing a ruthless divorce lawyer in Netflix domestic drama “Marriage Story.” Both had also won Golden Globes earlier this month.
“It was a difficult part,” quipped Pitt.
“A guy who gets high, takes his shirt off and doesn’t get on with his wife. It was a big stretch,” he said to laughter, riffing on his own life as a twice-divorced Hollywood heartthrob.
Comedy “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel” took the top television prize for its ensemble cast, but “Mrs Maisel” actress Alex Borstein said the prize should have gone to quirky British comedy “Fleabag.”
“This makes no sense,” a shocked Borstein said. “This is a mistake, but thank you,” said lead actress Rachel Brosnahan.
Moments earlier, “Fleabag” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge accepted the best television comedy actress statuette, capping a year of multiple awards for the show.
“This whole thing has been a dream and if I wake up tomorrow and find it’s been just that, thank you. It’s been the most beautiful dream,” Waller-Bridge said.
The SAG awards, which focus entirely on performances, are closely watched as an indicator of Oscar success because actors form the largest voting group in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Sexual harassment drama “Bombshell” went into Sunday’s awards with a leading four nods for its story of how misconduct allegations by women in 2016 led to the ouster of Fox News network founder Roger Ailes. Ailes denied the multiple accusations from female staffers and died a year later.
Charlize Theron, who underwent hours in make-up to transform her appearance for her role as former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, is one of the favorites for best actress.
However, Rene Zellweger has picked up most of the prizes so far for her performance as a desperate, aging Judy Garland in biopic “Judy.” A win at SAG later on Sunday after a Golden Globe earlier this month will further boost her chances for a second Oscar next month.
Joaquin Phoenix, who played a terrifying loner in “Joker” and Adam Driver, who played a divorced father in “Marriage Story” are competing for best actor, along with Leonardo DiCaprio for the nostalgic “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Several of the contenders for best picture at the Oscars on Feb. 9 were not nominated for the top prize of best movie cast ensemble at SAG.
Those left out include immersive World War One film “1917,” the big winner at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday, as well as dark comic book story “Joker,” heart-wrenching divorce drama “Marriage Story,” and novel adaptation “Little Women.”
Awards pundits say the contest for SAG’s best movie cast is likely to come down to two star-laden films – Netflix gangster epic “The Irishman” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” the 1960s throwback celebrating the entertainment industry.
De Niro, whose lead performance in “The Irishman” has been snubbed by the Oscars, Golden Globes and SAG, is getting a lifetime achievement award at the SAG dinner.