In an upset, the deaf family drama “CODA
took top honours at an unpredictable and history-making 28th Screen Actors Guild
Awards that also saw wins for the leads of “Squid Game,” the cast of “Ted
Lasso” and Will Smith.

Also Read: Troy Kotsur becomes the first deaf actor to get an individual SAG Award

The ceremony, held Sunday at Barker Hangar
in Santa Monica, California, and broadcast on both TNT and TBS, was notably
border-breaking, with historic wins for deaf actors, Korean stars and some of
Hollywood’s biggest names. It culminated with “CODA,” Sian Heder’s
heartwarming Apple TV+ coming-of-age film featuring a trio of deaf actors in
Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant, along with newcomer Emilia Jones,
winning best ensemble. The film has been seen as a watershed moment for the
deaf community in Hollywood.

“This validates the fact that we, deaf
actors, can work just like anybody else. We look forward to more opportunities
for deaf actors,” said Matlin on stage before teaching the crowd sign
language for “I love you.”

Also Read: SAG Awards 2022: Complete list of winners

Matlin is the only deaf actor to win an
Oscar, but her “CODA” co-star, Kotsur, may be in line to join her. Kotsur
won best supporting actor Sunday, becoming the first deaf actor win an
individual SAG award. When his name was read, the 53-year-old veteran actor
plunged his head into his hands. On stage, he thanked his wife for “reminding
me to check my fly before walking the red carpet.”

Netflix’s “Squid Game,” the first
non-English language series nominated by the actors guild, came on strong with
three awards, including Lee Jung-jae for best male actor in a drama series and
Jung Hoyeon for best female actor in a drama series. Those wins came over the
likes of “Succession” stars Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong, and Reese Witherspoon
and Jennifer Aniston of “The Morning Show.”

Also Read: ‘Squid Game’ becomes first foreign show to win SAG Award TV nomination

“I have sat many a times watching you on
the big screen dreaming of one day becoming an actor,” Jung told the
crowd, fighting back tears.

Still, HBO’s “Succession” ultimately
reigned in the best drama series category. Cox fittingly accepted the award
with an expletive printed on his face mask, and another uttered as he struggled
to take it off. But Cox turned serious when discussing Russia’s invasion of
Ukraine. In the evening’s bluntest remarks on the invasion, he noted that the
president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was a comic — and thus a fellow
performer. He urged censored dissenters in Russia to speak out.

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“The people in Russia who don’t like what’s
going on — and particularly the artists — I think we should join and celebrate
them and hope that they can make a shift, as I believe they can,” said Cox
while the audience stood and applauded.

The SAG Awards are considered one of the
most reliable predictors of the Academy Awards. Actors make up the largest
percentage of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and their picks
often align. In 2020, when the cast of “Parasite” and Brad Pitt won, they
matched exactly.

Also Read: ‘Squid Game’ becomes first foreign show to win SAG Award TV nomination

Though the actors guild and the academy
diverged last year when Aaron Sorkin’s 1960s courtroom drama “Trial of the
Chicago 7” topped the SAG Awards and “Nomadland” triumphed at the Oscars, the
win for “CODA” suggests it’s a major threat to win best picture over Kenneth
Branagh’s “Belfast” (which went winless Sunday) and Jane Campion’s leading
Oscar nominee “The Power of the Dog” (which failed to get an ensemble nod
even though three of its actors were individually nominated).