Screen Actors Guild Awards shows us some interesting trends

The 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los on Sunday, honouring the best achievements in film and television performances for 2016. Long regarded as a key barometer for Academy Awards results, which take place at the end of February, this year’s SAG ceremony threw up some interesting industry themes to look out for in 2017.

The acting industry continues to champion diversity and in particular to speak out against the election of Donald Trump and the far-right in the US. We’ve spoken before about the growing power that stage possesses in the political arena – we are now seeing that from the screen side of the industry. David Harbour and Winona Ryder of Stranger Things stole the show with their call to arms for the industry to continue to help shape a more empathetic and understanding society.

And speaking of Stranger Things, Netflix was very much the order of the day as the Netflix-exclusive show picked up the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast in a Drama Series. Orange is the New Black – Netflix’s most watched original series – took the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast in a Comedy Series. The growing prominence of Netflix in the industry highlights the shift in viewing habits that is taking place throughout the wider world right now. Where online content was once felt to be inferior to that of the traditional television networks, we are now seeing a revolution in the way people consume content, and this is being wholeheartedly embraced by the arts and entertainment industries.

There was success also for William H Macy in Shameless, who took the award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Comedy Series. Those who enjoyed the UK version of the show may be surprised to learn the extent of its success overseas, but the remake of the British original has been running in the US since 2011, and amassed over 80 episodes. There were further nods to UK inspired content as both Claire Foy and John Lithgow won prizes for their portrayals of British historical figures in another Netflix original, The Crown.

Musical runs the world
And of course we couldn’t look at the Screen Actors Guild Awards without mentioning La La Land. The romantic musical comedy was not up for the outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture award, but the ceremony did see Emma Stone take Outstanding Female Actor in a Leading Role. The eyes of the entertainment world will be on this one as the Academy Awards draw near, and it’s a reminder that – alongside Hamilton which has also been hitting the headlines here in the UK of late – musicals are more popular than ever before at present across stage and screen.