Peers Honoring Peers: What Makes SAG Awards Special

Jenelle Riley

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The 26th annual SAG Awards will be held Jan. 19 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and broadcast live on both TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. EST.

The SAG Awards are different from typical awards ceremonies for a number of reasons — beginning with length. The show, which comes in at two hours, is always the shortest of the major kudofests, as it only honors acting categories. However, it is one of the few to present awards in film, television and stunts.

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The SAG Awards nominees and winners are also voted on entirely by their peers. The nominees are picked by separate film and TV committees, but the winners are voted on by the approximately 160,000 members of the SAG-AFTRA union. This spirit of camaraderie is celebrated in the opening “I Am an Actor” segment in which performers directly address the audience about how they became actors, about early jobs or what acting means to them. Last year’s intros included “Bohemian Rhapsody” ensemble nominee Mike Myers and Geoffrey Owens, the former “The Cosby Show” star who went viral after being photographed working at a Trader Joe’s.

The SAG Awards were the first major awards show to honor the ensemble cast. At the first SAG Awards ceremony in 1995, TV ensembles “NYPD Blue” and “Seinfeld” won drama and comedy, respectively. The following year, the awards added film ensemble, making “Apollo 13” the first film ensemble to be honored. Last year, “Black Panther” landed the film ensemble award while on the TV side, “This Is Us” won drama and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” took home comedy.

And as an Oscar predictor, the SAG Awards are regarded as one of the best — perhaps because the largest voting body in the Academy is actors. Last year was a bit of an anomaly, as Emily Blunt’s supporting win for “A Quiet Place” couldn’t be duplicated as she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, and Glenn Close took home the SAG Award for “The Wife” but Olivia Colman went on to win the Oscar. Still, both Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) went on to take home Academy Awards.

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