“Three Billboards” and Women Front and Center at 2018 SAG Awards

The 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, the only major awards show in which actors are honored by other actors, took place at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday evening. This year’s ceremony was the first to have an official host, and the honor fell on none other than Kristen Bell. The star of “The Good Place” delivered a humorous monologue that made light of the current state of our country, referring to the dystopian drama “The Handmaid’s Tale” as a documentary, and declaring herself the “first lady” host of the SAG Awards and announcing her intention to make cyberbullying her platform, a jab at FLOTUS Melania Trump. In addition to the female host, all the presenters who took the stage were women.

Just as was the case at the recent Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards, the Time’s Up movement wasn’t far from everyone’s minds. It’s worth noting that nominee Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”), who was recently accused of sexual misconduct, was a no-show, although a subdued James Franco (“The Disaster Artist”), who has come under fire for similar allegations, was in attendance.

“We are living in a watershed moment,” Bell said. “And as we march forward with active momentum and open ears, let’s make sure that we’re leading the charge with empathy and diligence because fear and anger never win the race.”

Actress Rosanna Arquette, who was one of the numerous actresses who bravely came forward against producer Harvey Weinstein last year, was honored onstage by Marisa Tomei, who also expressed gratitude to Ashley Judd, Asia Argento and others. In her acceptance speech for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Limited Series, Big Little Lies star Nicole Kidman gave props to fellow nominees Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange, as well as the likes of Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda, for making it possible for actresses to keep going strong after 40. Sam Rockwell, who won for his supporting role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” saluted his co-star Frances McDormand and all the other women working to make things better. At the end of the night, presenter Brie Larson announced that SAG-AFTRA will be initiating new protocol that would be making sets safer for everyone.

As for the other winners, there were few surprises, as McDormand, Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”), Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), Sterling K. Brown (“This is Us”) and Alexander Skarsgard (“Big Little Lies”) continued their winning streaks following the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards. However, “The Handmaid’s Tale” was shut out, as an absent Claire Foy (“The Crown”) reclaimed Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, and “This is Us” took Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. The cast of the comedy series “Veep” were also honored, as was the show’s star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who couldn’t attend due to a commitment to a play in New York. “Shameless” star William H. Macy, a SAG Awards favorite, took Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series for the third year in a row. The night’s top award, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, went to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Morgan Freeman, an actor who many of the voters who call a personal inspiration. Freeman’s longtime friend Rita Moreno, to whom he presented the same honor five years ago, got to return the favor, giving an impassioned speech about the actor’s contribution to the world of cinema, education, charities and more before introducing an montage highlighting some of his finest performances. Freeman kept his acceptance speech relatively lighthearted, commenting the look of the Actor award, namely its “gender-specific” front bulge.

The 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards took place Jan. 21 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and aired on TNT and TBS.