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At SAG Awards, protest of immigration ban takes spotlight

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/30/2017 By JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer
Octavia Spencer, from left, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Kirsten Dunst pose in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Octavia Spencer, from left, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Kirsten Dunst pose in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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Oscar season is looking more and more like one very well-dressed protest against President Donald Trump.

Octavia Spencer, from left, Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, and Kirsten Dunst accept the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Octavia Spencer, from left, Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, and Kirsten Dunst accept the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

In speech after fiery speech at Sunday night's Screen Actors Guild Awards, winners struck a defiant tone against Trump's sweeping immigration ban. Their words varied from tender personal reflections to full-throated battle cries, but they were nearly uniform in channeling the nationwide demonstrations sparked by Trump's halting of immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

Mahershala Ali accepts the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for "Moonlight" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Mahershala Ali accepts the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for "Moonlight" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The SAG Awards culminated with the evening's top honor, best movie ensemble, going to the cast of "Hidden Figures," an uplifting drama about African-American mathematicians who aided NASA's 1960s space race, starring Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer. Henson concluded the show the same way its first presenter, Ashton Kutcher, began it: with the kind of pointed politics that have traditionally been more an aberration than a constant at Hollywood award shows.

Meryl Streep, left, and Viola Davis attend the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Meryl Streep, left, and Viola Davis attend the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"This story is about unity," said Henson, who stars alongside Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae in "Hidden Figures." ''This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins. Every time."

The cast and crew of "Orange is the New Black" pose in the press room with the awards for the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press The cast and crew of "Orange is the New Black" pose in the press room with the awards for the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

It was a surprise win for "Hidden Figures." With the Oscar front-runner "La La Land" (which took the Producers Guild Awards' top honor on Saturday) not nominated in the category, most expected a contest between "Moonlight" or "Manchester by the Sea." Such a result could now mean "Hidden Figures" is the strongest challenger to the "La La Land" dominance, or, perhaps, that none of the three films will be able to muster enough to topple the song-and-dance juggernaut.

Simon Helberg, left, and Jocelyn Towne display protest signs against the U.S. policy of temporarily barring refugees and citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Simon Helberg, left, and Jocelyn Towne display protest signs against the U.S. policy of temporarily barring refugees and citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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Yet if Damien Chazelle's musical is to go on to win best picture, it will be just the second film to do so without a SAG ensemble nod in the category's history. Only Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" managed it in 1996.

Lily Tomlin accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Lily Tomlin accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

But such Oscar handicapping — usually the prime drama at the SAG Awards — largely took a backseat to politics on Sunday. (That is, with the possible exception of Denzel Washington's surprise win over Casey Affleck.) Whichever film ultimately triumphs at the Oscars, it seems assured of being dwarfed by the growing off-screen clamor.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for "Veep" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for "Veep" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The immigration ban has already altered the Academy Awards. On Sunday, the revered Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, whose "A Salesman" is nominated for best foreign language film, said he would boycott the Oscars, even if he was allowed to travel for them.

Viola Davis accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role for "Fences" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Viola Davis accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role for "Fences" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who added another honor for her performance on the political satire "Veep," said she was the daughter of an immigrant who fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France.

Viggo Mortensen, left, and Kathryn Hahn speak at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Viggo Mortensen, left, and Kathryn Hahn speak at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"Because I love this country, I am horrified by its blemishes," said Louis-Dreyfus. "And this immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American."

Damien Chazelle arrives at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Damien Chazelle arrives at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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Perhaps the most moving speech came from Mahershala Ali, who won best supporting actor for his acclaimed performance in Barry Jenkins' coming-of-age portrait, "Moonlight." Ali said the film, about a shy, gay Miami boy's hard life, held lessons of acceptance. "We see what happens when you persecute people," Ali said. "The fold into themselves."

William H. Macy poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series for "Shameless" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press William H. Macy poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series for "Shameless" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Ali said his own relationship with his mother exemplified tolerance. The son of a Protestant minister, Ali converted to Islam 17 years ago.

John Lithgow accepts the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series for "The Crown" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press John Lithgow accepts the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series for "The Crown" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"We put things to the side," Ali said of their differences. "I'm able to see her. She's able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. That stuff is minutia. It's not that important."

Ashton Kutcher presents the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Ashton Kutcher presents the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Ali was among the several Oscar favorites who cemented their front-runner status, including best-actress winner Emma Stone for "La La Land" and best-supporting actress winner Viola Davis for "Fences." But best actor went to Davis's co-star (and director) Washington for his performance in the August Wilson adaptation. Most expected the award to go to Affleck, apparently including Washington himself.

Taylor Schilling, center, and the cast of "Orange Is the New Black" accept the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Taylor Schilling, center, and the cast of "Orange Is the New Black" accept the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"I'm a God-fearing man," he said, still shaking his head as he reached the podium. "I'm supposed to have faith, but I didn't have faith."

Bryan Cranston appears backstage with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or limited series for "All the Way" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Bryan Cranston appears backstage with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or limited series for "All the Way" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

The most blistering speech was by David Harbour, who led the cast of Netflix's "Stranger Things" — another big surprise winner — on stage to accept best ensemble in a TV drama series. "We will hunt monsters," Harbour vowed in lengthy remarks that drew a standing ovation.

Emma Stone accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for "La La Land" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Emma Stone accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for "La La Land" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The hit Netflix series "Orange Is the New Black" won best ensemble in a comedy series for the third straight year.

Taraji P. Henson, from right, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, Kimberly Quinn, and Saniyya Sidney, foreground left, accept the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Taraji P. Henson, from right, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, Kimberly Quinn, and Saniyya Sidney, foreground left, accept the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"We stand up here representing a diverse group of people, representing generations of families who have sought a better life here from places like Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ireland," said star Taylor Schilling, while a cast member added "Brooklyn!" ''And we know that it's going to be up to us and all you, probably, to keep telling stories that show what unites us is stronger than the forces that divide us."

Emma Stone poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for "La La Land" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Emma Stone poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for "La La Land" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Lily Tomlin was the lifetime achievement honoree Sunday. The 77-year-old actress gave a warm, rollicking speech that dispensed both drinking advice and regret over wasting "a lot of time being ambitious about the wrong things."

Aldis Hodge, from left, Theodore Melfi, Mahershala Ali, Jim Parsons, Kimberly Quinn, Kristen Dunst, Octavia Spencer, Saniyya Sidney, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Glen Powell pose in the press room with the awards for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Aldis Hodge, from left, Theodore Melfi, Mahershala Ali, Jim Parsons, Kimberly Quinn, Kristen Dunst, Octavia Spencer, Saniyya Sidney, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Glen Powell pose in the press room with the awards for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

"Did you hear? The Doomsday Clock has been moved up to two and a half minutes before midnight," said Tomlin. "And this award, it came just in the nick of time."

Janelle Monae, left, and Taraji P. Henson pose in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Janelle Monae, left, and Taraji P. Henson pose in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for "Hidden Figures" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

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Sandy Cohen in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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