By JAKE COYLE
AP Film Writer
“Parasite’’ has officially infected this year’s award season. Bong Joon Ho’s Korean film became the first foreign language film to take top honors from the Screen Actors Guild on Jan. 19, setting itself up as a legitimate best-picture contender to the front-runner “1917’’ at next month’s Academy Awards.
The win, over the starry productions likes of “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood’’ and “The Irishman’’ was a surprise, but only to a degree. The audience at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, greeted the victory for “Parasite’’ with a standing ovation.
Because actors make up the largest percentage of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, their picks are closely watched as an Academy Awards harbinger.
But the last two years, the SAG ensemble winner has not gone on to win best picture: “Black Panther’’ last year and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’’ in 2018. And this year’s front-runner, “1917,’’ more acclaimed for its technical acumen, wasn’t nominated by the screen actors.
On Jan. 18, “1917’’ won top honors at the highly predictive Producers Guild Awards. In 21 of the last 30 years, the PGA winner has lined up with the eventual best picture winner.
All the Oscar favorites kept their momentum, including wins for Renee Zellweger (“Judy”), Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,”), Joaquin Phoenix (“Phoenix”) and Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”).
As expected, Phoenix took best performance by a male actor. After individually praising each fellow nominee, Phoenix concluded with a nod to his Joker predecessor. “I’m standing here on the shoulders of my favorite actor, Heath Ledger,“ said Phoenix.
Robert De Niro was given the guild’s lifetime achievement award, an honor presented by Leonardo DiCaprio who, like De Niro, is a frequent leading man for Martin Scorsese. (The two co-star in Scorsese’s upcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon.’’) A raucous standing ovation greeted the 76-year-old actor.
“Game of Thrones’’ closed out its eight-season run with wins for Peter Dinklage for best male actor in a drama series and for best stunt ensemble work. “The Crown’’ took best ensemble in a drama series. And both “Fosse/Verdon’’ stars—Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell—won for their performances in the miniseries.