#GirlPower – Women dominate the Screen Actors Guild awards

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Dark comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won three prizes at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards on Sunday in a ceremony marked by women and their stories amid the sexual misconduct scandal that has swept Hollywood.

The Fox Searchlight film about a furious woman seeking justice for the murder of her daughter was named Best Ensemble, the top SAG honour.

Frances McDormand won Best Actress and Sam Rockwell took home the award for the Best Supporting Actor for their roles in the film.

Britain’s Gary Oldman won the award for Best Actor for playing wartime leader Winston Churchill in Focus Features’ Darkest Hour.

Allison Janney won for her supporting actress role as a demanding mother in an independent ice-skating movie I, Tonya.

The SAG awards are indicators of likely Oscar success in March because actors form the largest group of voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday.

The SAG ceremony took place after two days of marches by hundreds of thousands of women throughout the United States.

Women took centre stage at the ceremony with the SAG Awards featuring its first-ever host, Kristen Bell, and all-female presenters.

Kristen Bell

Bell kicked off the night with a light approach, joking that she was the “first lady” of the event.

“I think my first initiative as the first lady will be cyberbullying, as I have yet to see any progress on that,” Bell remarked.

However, she quickly delved into the topic at hand and said, “Let’s make sure we lead the charge with empathy and diligence because fear and anger never win the race.”

Accusations of sexual misconduct have forced dozens of powerful men in Hollywood to step down, be fired or dropped from creative projects.

Women, many of them leading actresses, have responded by breaking their silence through the #MeToo social media movement and the Time’s Up campaign for legal support of victims.

On the red carpet, women swapped the black gowns that marked support for victims of sexual harassment at the Golden Globes two weeks ago for brighter blues, green and metallic hues. However, what was interesting was that the Time’s Up pins that so many stars sported on January 7 were few and far between. Reese Witherspoon, who helped launch the women’s equality group on New Year’s Day, wasn’t wearing one on her emerald Zac Posen gown. Allison Williams demoted hers, pinning it to her clutch instead of her Ralph & Russo gown.

L-R: Reese Witherspoon, Lupita Nyong’o, Allison Williams, Halle Berry

Women were the dominant theme inside the Shrine Auditorium. Nicole Kidman, 50, won for playing a battered wife in HBO’s female-centric TV series Big Little Lies.

“How wonderful that our careers today can go beyond 40 years old. Twenty years ago we were pretty washed up at this stage in our lives. This is not the case now,” Kidman said.”We’ve proven and these actresses (Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep) and so many more are proving that we are potent and powerful and viable. I just beg that the industry stays behind us because our stories are finally being told.”

Nicole Kidman accepting her award for playing a battered wife in HBO’s female-centric TV series Big Little Lies

“We are acknowledging the year of the woman,” said the ceremony’s executive director Kathy Connell.

Aziz Ansari, nominated for his Netflix comedy series Master of None, did not put in an appearance after making headlines last week when a woman described feelings of violation following an awkward date with the actor last year.

However, Ansari said that he believed their sexual activity to be consensual. Nonetheless, Ansari lost the television comedy actor statuette to William H Macy for Shameless.

James Franco, a Best Actor nominee for The Disaster Artist, did show up but skipped the red carpet and did not win.

Franco has kept a low profile since describing allegations of sexual impropriety against him by five women two weeks ago as “not accurate”.

In television, NBC’s sentimental family drama This is Us was named the best drama ensemble cast in a surprise win over presumed front-runners The Crown and dystopian series A Handmaid’s Tale.

Cast of ‘This Is Us’

The cast of HBO political satire Veep won Best Ensemble for a television comedy. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and missed the SAG show, was named best comedy actress.

“She’s genuinely been in good spirits when we’ve seen her, which I think will carry her along. She is incredibly strong and is uniquely able to combat something like this” Timothy Simons, who plays Jonah Ryan on Veep, told reporters on Sunday.