Spotlight has taken home the top prize at this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, winning best ensemble cast. And stars Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton used their acceptance speeches to call out injustice, including the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan.
“This is not only for the survivors of this horrific situation,” Keaton said, referring to Catholic Church’s sex-abuse cover-up at the center of Spotlight. “But for me personally, this is really for the disenfranchised everywhere. This is for every Flint, Michigan in the world. This is for the powerless. This is for the powerful who take advantage of the powerless.”
He added, “It comes down to two things: There’s fair, and there’s unfair, and I’m always going to vote for the fair. I’m always going to pull for the good guys.”
Ruffalo spoke more specifically about the sex-abuse survivors, saying the film “honored these people, these victims who are dead, and the survivors who are still alive [after] one of the most horrific things that our culture has allowed to happen. This movie allows them to be seen in a world that has been blind to them.”
Ruffalo, Keaton, Brian d’Arcy James, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, and John Slattery star in Tom McCarthy’s drama as the real-life Boston Globe journalists whose Pulitzer-winning investigation helped expose a massive sex abuse cover-up in the Catholic Church. Billy Crudup and Stanley Tucci also star as lawyers involved in the case.
Backstage at the SAG Awards, Keaton elaborated on his acceptance speech comments. “I’m pretty sure Flint, Michigan doesn’t have an investigative team in the local paper… but that’s what’s going on in journalism right now, that newspapers across the world are losing money, and they don’t have the money to have an investigative team or journalists,” Keaton said. “Had there been one, I would argue, and I think it’s a strong argument, that they may have been ahead of the Flint, Michigan situation. But we could talk on and on and on. It always happens in poor neighborhoods which are generally black or Hispanic or people of color, and as long as there’s no one to represent, not just those but the disenfranchised everywhere, or people who are fighting against unfair things. And I don’t want to just point the finger at giant big corporations. That’s not necessarily what I mean. Anyone. And so I mention it because there are a zillion Flint, Michigans out there. Not zillions, but a lot of them.”
Spotlight’s SAG Award could help boost its chances at the Oscars, as it’s also up for Best Picture. But when it comes to best ensemble cast (the SAG equivalent to Best Picture), a SAG win doesn’t automatically mean an Oscar win, as the SAG Awards have only correctly picked the winner six times out of the last 10 years.
Beasts of No Nation, The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, and Trumbo were also up for best ensemble cast.