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What Are the Screen Actors Guild Awards?

by Scott Kacsmar
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Screen Actors Guild Awards trophy SAG Awards

We are deep into Hollywood award season with the 30th Screen Actors Guild Awards set to take place on February 24, 2024. You can consider this the bridge ceremony between January’s Golden Globe Awards and the Oscars in March; the other 2 major events at the top sportsbooks for awards shows.

Known as the SAG Awards, these accolades for movies and prime-time television are presented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). There are no awards given for the best picture, director or writer as the SAG Awards focus on the best acting performances by individuals and ensemble casts.

Relatively newer than the other award shows, the SAG Awards are holding their 30th ceremony this year and we wanted to review the history of the event and preview what you can expect at the 2024 SAG Awards.

The History of the Screen Actors Guild Awards

The 1st Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony was held on February 25, 1995 at Universal Studios Hollywood to honor the best in acting in movies and TV (comedy and drama series) for the year 1994.

Before the vote can take place, nominees are determined by 2 committees (one for movies, one for TV series) of 2,500 randomly selected members. Once the nomination field is complete, any SAG-AFRTA member can vote on the winner.

The Selection Process for the SAG Awards

No award show has a larger or more diverse group of voters than the SAG Awards as the more than 130,000 members of the SAG-AFTRA can vote for the winners in each category.

Award Categories for the SAG

Unlike the Oscars where everything from costume design to cinematography is awarded, the SAG Awards focus on the acting. The SAG award winners in film are often thought to be heavy favorites for the acting awards in the Oscars.

These are the annual categories for film actors presented at the SAG Awards:

  • Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

These are the annual categories for TV actors presented at the SAG Awards:

  • Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

In 1995, comedian and actor George Burns received a SAG Life Achievement Award, which actually predates the award show by over 30 years as it was first handed out in 1962 to Eddie Cantor. Actress and singer Barbra Streisand will be the recipient this year of the annual award.

The SAG Award Itself

Winners at the SAG Awards receive a trophy known as “The Actor.” It is a nude, male figure holding a mask of comedy and a mask of tragedy, fitting for the most popular genres of drama and comedy.

It is cast in solid bronze, stands 16 inches tall and weighs over 12 pounds.

Here are some of the record holders for the most wins and nominations at the SAG Awards:

  • Most Wins by Female Actor – Julia-Louis Dreyfus (9)
  • Most Wins by Male Actor – Alec Baldwin (8)
  • Most Nominations, Actor – Edie Falco (22)
  • Most Wins, Movie – Everything Everywhere All at Once (4)
  • Most Wins, TV Comedy – 30 Rock (12)
  • Most Wins, TV Drama – Game of Thrones (9)
  • Most Nominations, TV Comedy – Frasier (26)
  • Most Nominations, TV Drama – The Sopranos (26)

The Broadcast History of the SAG Awards

The first SAG awards were broadcast on NBC in 1995. The ceremony moved to TNT for 1998-2022 with simulcast on TBS from 2007-2022.

In 2018, actress Kirsten Bell became the first host of the SAG Awards in its 24-year history at the time.

Starting in 2024, the SAG Awards will be streamed live on Netflix. It was announced in January 2023, but last year’s ceremony had to be watched on the Netflix channel on YouTube due to the provider’s live streaming capabilities still in test mode. But it will be there to stream on Netflix this year.

What to Expect from the 30th Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2024

The 30th Screen Actors Guild Awards will take place on Saturday, February 24, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

We will see if the big winners at the Golden Globes in January will continue their success and add to their trophy case at the SAG Awards.

Movie Side

On the movie side, Oppenheimer expects to duel with Killers of the Flower Moon for many categories, but don’t forget about Barbie, which is right there in the categories for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Ryan Gosling as Ken), Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Margot Robbie as Barbie), and Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Oppenheimer and Barbie received the most nominations with 4 each.

Cillian Murphy is the betting favorite to win the top actor award for his portrayal of Oppenheimer, but Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers) should have a shot too.

While some felt Margot Robbie was snubbed by the Oscars for Barbie, she is in the field for top actress here. However, Lily Gladstone is a heavy favorite for her dramatic turn in Killers of the Flower Moon.

We’ll see if Robert Downey Jr. (Oppenheimer) can hold off Gosling and Robert De Niro in the top supporting actor category.

The deep, star-studded cast of Oppenheimer is likely to take the best ensemble cast award.

TV Side

On the TV side, can it be a clean sweep for the shows that have dominated award season so far?

The final season of HBO’s Succession received the most nominations (5) and is a heavy favorite for the top drama awards for best ensemble cast, best actor (Kieran Culkin), and best actress (Sarah Snook).

The Bear has been dominating the comedy awards and is a favorite to win best ensemble cast, best actor (Jeremy Allen White), and best actress (Ayo Edebiri).

Beef has already won numerous awards in the limited series category, and both Steven Yeun and Ali Wong are heavy favorites for the acting awards here.

Chalk may sound boring for any bettors out there, but if you watched these seasons of Succession, The Bear and Beef, then it is hard to argue with anything else deserving to win. They were the best of the best this last year, which is what the SAG Awards want to honor.

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Scott Kacsmar
NFL football picks are Scott Kacsmar's expertise, serving as his main focus. He has contributed to various sports websites and blogs, such as NBC Sports, ESPN Insider, FiveThirtyEight, and, JoeWager. Originating from Pittsburgh, Scott maintains a love-hate connection with the Pirates.

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