'Black Panther' takes top Screen Actors Guild awards prize, boosting Oscars chances

PHOTO: AFP

Superhero movie "Black Panther," a film heralded for its predominantly black cast and vibrant celebration of African culture, won the top award from Hollywood's Screen Actors Guild on Sunday, boosting its chances in this year's Oscars race.

"Black Panther" was named best movie ensemble in a surprise win over favourite "A Star is Born," the Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga musical revival.

The awards from SAG-AFTRA, Hollywood's largest actors union, are closely watched because actors form the largest voting group in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organisation that hands out the Oscars next month.

Glenn Close was honoured with best film actress for playing a devoted spouse in "The Wife." Rami Malek won the trophy for best film actor for his portrayal of late Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Only one film in the last 23 years has won the prestigious best picture Oscar without being nominated for SAG's ensemble prize. That was last year's fantasy romance "The Shape of Water."

That scenario could repeat itself this year as SAG snubbed some of the best picture candidates in the ensemble category, including Spanish-language drama "Roma," British period comedy "The Favourite" and Golden Globe best comedy winner "Green Book." The Oscars will be awarded Feb. 24.

"Green Book" did take home one SAG award. Mahershala Ali received the trophy for best supporting actor in a movie for his role as jazz pianist Don Shirley.

SAG also recognised M*A*S*H" TV star Alan Alda with a lifetime achievement award.

In television, Amazon.com Inc series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" swept the comedy honors, winning best ensemble as well as best actor and actress for stars Tony Shalhoub and Rachel Brosnahan.

"This is Us," on Comcast Corp's NBC, won best ensemble cast for a television drama.

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