‘Spotlight’ nabs top prize in Oscars bellwether

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LOS ANGELES, Jan 31, 2016 (BSS/AFP) – “Spotlight,” a drama about sexual abuse in the Catholic church, landed the top prize on Saturday at the 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards that also saw black actors score a number of wins.

The awards, seen as a bellwether of the all-important Academy Awards, were being closely watched as they were taking place amid a controversy over the lack of African-American and minority-ethnic actors nominated for an Oscar this year.

“Spotlight” took the prize for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, the SAG equivalent of an Oscar.

It bested “Beasts of No Nation,” a drama about a child soldier, “The Big Short,” about the sub-prime mortgage crisis, “Straight Outta Compton,” a biopic about the N.W.A rap group, and “Trumbo,” about the life of acclaimed screenwriter Dalton Trumbo who was the target of a witch hunt during the McCarthy era.

In the acting honors, Leonardo DiCaprio won the best actor award for his portrayal of fur trapper Hugh Glass in the revenge thriller “The Revenant.”

DiCaprio, 41, an Oscar favorite for the gritty survival story, beat competition from Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl).

In the best actress category, Brie Larson won for “Room,” in which she plays a kidnapped young woman living in captivity with her son.

But perhaps most notable at the awards were the number of black actors honored.

Idris Elba celebrated his first win as best supporting actor for Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation,” in which he plays an African warlord. He also won best actor in a TV series for his role as a detective in the British crime drama “Luther.”

Uzo Aduba took home the award for outstanding actress in a comedy series for her role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Netflix’s prison comedy-drama “Orange is the New Black.” The TV series also won for the second consecutive year for best comedy ensemble.

“Look at this stage, this is what we talk about when we talk about diversity — different race, color, creed, sexual orientation,” actress Laura Prepon, who plays Alex Vause in the series, told the audience, referring to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

Viola Davis meanwhile won best actress for legal drama series “How to Get Away With Murder,” while Queen Latifah won for her role in “Bessie,” a biopic of the blues singer Bessie Smith.

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