New York - "Black Panther" took the top award at Sunday's 25th Screen Actors Guild Awards, giving Ryan Coogler's superhero sensation its most significant awards-season honour yet and potentially setting up Wakanda for a major role at next month's Academy Awards.
The two leading Oscar nominees - "Roma" and "The Favourite" - were bypassed by the actors guild for the best ensemble field that also included "BlacKkKlansman," ''Crazy Rich Asians," ''Bohemian Rhapsody" and "A Star Is Born." Although "Black Panther" wasn't nominated for any individual SAG Awards, it took home the final award at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Before a stage full of actors, Chadwick Boseman tried to put into context the moment for the trailblazing "Black Panther," which also won for its stunt performer ensemble. "To be young, gifted and black," he said, quoting the Nina Simone song.
"We know what it's like to be told there isn't a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. ... We know what's like to be beneath and not above. And that is what we went to work with every day," said Boseman. "We knew that we could create a world that exemplified a world we wanted to see. We knew that we had something to give."
The win puts "Black Panther" squarely in contention for best picture at the Academy Awards where it's nominated for seven honours including best picture. Actors make up the largest percentage of the academy, so their preferences can have an especially large impact on the Oscar race. In the last decade, the SAG ensemble winner has gone on to win the best picture at the Academy Awards half of the time.