Blanchett, Kidman miss out in SAG awards

Chadwick Boseman is frontrunner for an Oscar after winning a SAG award for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Chadwick Boseman is frontrunner for an Oscar after winning a SAG award for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Neither Cate Blanchett nor Nicole Kidman have walked away with a Screen Actors Guild award, in a ceremony that was rendered virtual by the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 and jazz period film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom were the big winners at the SAG awards, one of the last major ceremonies before the Oscars.

The Trial of the Chicago 7, set during a Vietnam War protest in 1968, took the prize for best ensemble with a cast that includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Frank Langella and Mark Rylance.

Langella credited writer and director Aaron Sorkin for the win, saying his "voice is the soul of this movie".

All four of the winning film actors were people of colour, the first time this has happened in the SAG awards' 27-history.

Chadwick Boseman, who died of cancer last year aged 43, picked up another award for his final role as an ambitious 1930s trumpet player in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Sunday's SAG win positioned him as front-runner for his first Oscar at the Academy Awards on April 25.

Accepting on Boseman's behalf, his widow Simone Ledward Boseman cited a saying from the late actor himself.

"If you see the world unbalanced, be a crusader that pushes heavily on the see-saw of the mind," she said.

Viola Davis won best actress for playing a jazz diva in Ma Rainey, besting presumed favourites Frances McDormand for Nomadland and Carey Mulligan in revenge drama Promising Young Woman.

Blanchett and Kidman were both nominated for best actress in a limited series, with Blanchett earning a nod for her role in historical drama Mrs America and Kidman nominated alongside Hugh Grant in The Undoing.

They lost out to Anya Taylor-Joy who won for her role in chess drama The Queen's Gambit.

The SAG awards, chosen by members of the acting union, are closely watched because actors form the largest voting group in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises the Oscars.

The win for The Trial of the Chicago 7 boosted the film's chances of winning the best picture Academy Award in a year that has seen modern recession-era movie Nomadland grab many of the pre-Oscar awards.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's SAG ceremony was scaled down from a gala dinner to a one-hour presentation, held remotely, and peppered with jokes about how actors filled their free time during lockdown or got a start in their careers.

Minari, the Korean-language story of an immigrant family struggling to make it in 1980s Arkansas, brought a supporting actress award for South Korean veteran Youn Yuh-jung as a cantankerous grandmother.

"I am very pleased and happy," said Youn, 73.

British actor Daniel Kaluuya won for his supporting role as the late Black Panther activist Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah.

The SAG awards also recognise television performers, with the casts of Schitt's Creek and The Crown taking the top prizes for comedy and drama respectively.

Many of the SAG winners and nominees are also up for honours at the British BAFTA awards next week, and the Independent Spirit awards on April 22.

Australian Associated Press