The Oscars are famously considered the peak achievement in the film industry, but before those golden trophies are handed out, audiences can get an early indicator of who may wind up being the year's biggest winners by watching the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Held about a month before the Academy Awards, the SAG Awards are usually looked at as an indicator of the actors and projects that will win big at the Oscars. But there are also a number of ways the SAG Awards are different from the Oscars that make them uniquely exciting. I know it can be hard to keep up with all the different ceremonies that go down in awards season, so I allow me to lay out exactly what makes the SAG Awards different from the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, and the rest.
To make things easier, let's talk about what makes the SAG Awards different from the rest of the awards shows by splitting it up into categories.
As I've already mentioned, the SAG Awards are looked at as an indicator for the Oscars, and that is because it is the major awards show that airs most closely to the Academy Awards. The SAG Awards air at the end of January every year, and a month later in either late February or early March comes the Oscars. This year, the SAG Awards will take place on Jan. 21 and the Oscars are being held on March 4.
The SAG Awards are the youngest of the major film and TV awards ceremonies. They started in 1995, meaning that this year will be the 24th Annual SAG Awards. In comparison, the Oscars are nearly four times as old — this year will be the 90th Annual Academy Awards. The Golden Globes (which had its 75th annual ceremony this year) and the Emmys (which recently held its 69th annual ceremony) are also both significantly older than the SAG Awards.
Although every other major awards show gets a celebrity to emcee the ceremony, the SAG Awards stand apart for having never had a host before. But that will change this year: Kristen Bell will be the first SAG Awards host ever when the ceremony airs on Jan. 21.
One of the main differences between the SAG Awards and the Oscars is that, like the Golden Globes, the SAGs cover both TV and film, whereas the Oscars focus solely on movies. The SAG Awards are also only given out for acting performances, while the Oscars are awarded to actors, directors, members of a film crew, and also movies as a whole. Because of this focus on only acting awards, the SAG Awards also have fewer categories: 16 compared to the 24 at the Oscars.
For films, the SAG Awards give out trophies for best movie cast, best male and female lead, best male and female supporting, and also best stunt ensemble. In television, the awards are split for drama, comedy, and miniseries, awarding best actor, actress, and ensemble in each, along with another best stunt team in any TV show award.
Behind the scenes, the most major thing that separates the SAG Awards from the Oscars is who gets to vote on the winners. While the Oscars are handed out by a select group of secret, established industry professionals, the SAG Awards are chosen on by members of the SAG-AFTRA acting union... real working actors! Each year, a handful of actors are randomly selected from the hundreds of thousands of SAG members, and they get to decide on who gets nominated. Once nominations are in, everyone with a SAG membership can cast their vote. Basically, the SAG Awards feel a lot more like an awards show for actors, by actors.
The two people with the most SAG Awards (eight) are Alec Baldwin, all won in the television comedy category for 30 Rock, and Julianna Margulies, all won in the television drama category for The Good Wife. Of course, actors have a much better chance at snagging a SAG Award than an Oscar, since it has much more acting categories. Although the person with the most Oscars has a whopping 22 awards, Walt Disney obviously won none of them in acting categories. The most awarded actor at the Oscars is Katherine Hepburn, with four trophies, half the amount of the highest SAG winners' count.
Tune in the the SAG Awards this year on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 21.