Three Billboards gets big Oscar push from Screen Actors Guild Awards

The cast of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri posing backstage with their award for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture at the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California, US, on Jan 21, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS)- In the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a furious woman takes aim at incompetent policemen after her daughter is murdered.

Now, after scoring a bull's eye on Sunday at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards where the film bagged three major trophies, it can aim for bigger "kills" at the Oscars in March.

In the event in Los Angeles, Three Billboards took home statuettes for Best Cast Performance in a Motion Picture as well as Best Supporting Male and Best Female performances for Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand respectively.

The SAG honours are indicators of likely Oscar success because actors form the largest group of voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Like the more flashy Golden Globes on Jan 7, Sunday's event also had alleged sexual harassers in its sights.

Misconduct allegations have led to the downfall of producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey, among others.

Aziz Ansari, nominated for his Netflix comedy series Master Of None, was a no-show on Sunday after making headlines last week after a woman described feeling violated following an awkward date last year. He said he believed their sexual activity was consensual.

James Franco, a best actor nominee for The Disaster Artist, did show up but skipped the red carpet. He had kept a low profile since describing allegations of sexual impropriety against him by five women two weeks ago as "not accurate".

On Sunday, Kristen Bell, star of television's The Good Place, served as the SAG's first-ever host. In the aftermath of Saturday's second Women's March which brought together hundreds of thousands of people in the United States - between 300,000 and 600,000 in Los Angeles alone - all SAG statuettes were presented by actresses, including Halle Berry, Dakota Fanning, Lupita Nyong'o and Emma Stone.

"We are living in a watershed moment and we march forward with active momentum and open ears; let's make sure we are leading the charge with empathy and diligence, because fear and anger never win the race," said Bell as she opened the show.

Allison Janney and Rockwell bagged the early honours. Janney won best supporting actress as a demanding mother in ice-skating movie I, Tonya.

Rockwell got the vote for his performance as a dim-witted police officer in Three Billboards.

Gary Oldman did not go home empty, bagging best actor for playing wartime leader Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

Nicole Kidman, 50, won for playing a battered wife in HBO's female-centric TV series Big Little Lies. "How wonderful that our careers today can go beyond 40 years old. Twenty years ago, we were pretty washed up by this stage in our lives. This is not the case now," she said.

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Dark comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri wins three prizes at the Screen Actors Guild awards.

In television, NBC's sentimental family drama This Is Us won best drama ensemble cast in a surprise triumph over presumed front runners The Crown and dystopian series A Handmaid's Tale.

The cast of HBO political satire Veep won best ensemble for a television comedy.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and missed the SAG show, was named best comedy actress.

"She's genuinely been in good spirits when we've seen her, which I think will carry her along... She is incredibly strong and is uniquely able to combat something like this," Timothy Simons, who plays Jonah Ryan on Veep, said.

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