By William Azabal
Los Angeles, United States, Feb 27 (EFE).- The coming-of-age comedy drama “CODA” won the top prize at the 28th edition of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards held Sunday night in Los Angeles.
The film, which is about the child of deaf adults (CODA), won best cast, beating out films including “Belfast” (Focus Features), “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix), “House of Gucci ” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) and “King Richard” (Warner Bros.)
The movie, which has a predominantly deaf cast, was acquired by Apple for $25 million last year.
“I’m stunned,” Marlee Matlin – the only deaf actress to ever win an Academy Award – said after accepting the award with other members of the cast.
Speaking through a sign language interpreter, Matlin thanked the film’s director, Sian Heder, for “writing the words (and) including deaf culture.”
“We, deaf actors, have come a long way (..) This validates the fact that we, deaf actors, can work just like anybody else. We look forward to more opportunities for deaf actors, deaf culture, “she added, ending her speech by teaching the audience the sign language hand gesture for “I love you.”
“CODA” has also been nominated for best picture at the 2022 Academy Awards and also won top honors at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival last year.
Jessica Chastain and Will Smith won best actress and actor for their respective performances in “King Richard” and “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
“Everyone in this room knows that a performance is only as good as the people around you and I had the best acting troupe one could have,” Chastain said in her acceptance speech.
She also shared her struggles of becoming an actor.
“There were years of studying and auditioning and not getting jobs. And I know what that feels like and I know the loneliness of what that feels like. And so, for those of you who are struggling and feeling unseen, I just want you to keep going because you’re one job away,” she added.
During his acceptance speech, Smith paid tribute to tennis players Venus and Serena Williams’ father, Richard Williams, on whose life the movie is based.
“He has a power of belief that borders on insanity and sometimes tips over the border, which is absolutely necessary to take something from impossible to possible,” Smith said.
Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor to win a SAG Award with the best supporting actor trophy for “CODA” while Ariana DeBose won best supporting actress for West Side Story.
The Screen Actors Guild Awards, which are considered one of the most reliable predictors of the Academy Awards, returned to the in-person format after going virtual last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event also honored the most outstanding works on the small screen.
While “Succession” won best drama series, “Ted Lasso” took home the best comedy series award.
Jason Sudeikis also won best actor in a comedy series for the APPLE TV show.
The best actor in a drama series award went to Lee Jung-Jae for “Squid Game”, which became the most successful series in Netflix history last year.