Despite final voting for the 2024 Oscars having already commenced, there is still juice worth squeezing out of the final stretch of award shows setting the tone for who could win on March 10. 

For example, Best Picture nominee Christine Vachon introducing “Past Lives” writer-director Celine Song to accept the Debut Feature Award at the 2024 Kodak Film Awards on Friday, February 23 by saying “Celine’s integrity of vision, her absolute knowledge of the story that she wanted to tell, and her ability to communicate that to everybody on our set, and to the actors was just transcendent,” does tee up the recent DGA Award winner well in the ongoing campaign to pull off a surprise win for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar (BAFTA winner “Anatomy of a Fall” is the current frontrunner.)

So the 2024 SAG Awards being seen as the event that determines the result of the four acting races seems like an objectively important room for Oscar hopefuls to be in even if they are campaigning for different categories. After all, the Actors Branch is the largest voting bloc for the Academy Awards.

As attendees entered the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, February 24, the back perimeter was the main place to be, with its two bars and sponsored Campari station. As people like “American Fiction” producer Ram Bergman, “Oppenheimer” actor Josh Hartnett, the Academy CEO Bill Kramer and President Janet Yang, and more all filed in, one major attendee that stood out was Bobi Wine, the focus of Best Documentary Feature nominee “Bobi Wine: The People’s President.” 

For anyone who has not seen the film yet, the Ugandan musician-turned-politician has had a very difficult few years, which makes it all the more triumphant for him to be in Los Angeles with the film’s co-director Mose Bwayo, who was handing out pins that said “People Power” — fitting for an event put on by a union.

Also floating around was the Netflix Awards team, who did not score a win on the film side, despite nominations for “Maestro,” “Nyad,” and “Rustin,” but at least award season breakout Colman Domingo, star of the latter film, took part in the beloved “I Am an Actor” segment. They also swept the Limited Series categories with “Beef” stars Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, and got a key win for Elizabeth Debicki in her final run of “The Crown” promotion. Despite the streaming platform serving as the new host of the awards show, the producers and awards reps have been church and state.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: (L-R) Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, and Anne Hathaway speak onstage during the 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on February 24, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, and Anne Hathaway speak onstage during the 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

One of the funnier things to get asked in haste during the cocktail hour was “Have you seen Meryl Streep?” The two-time SAG winner got a shoutout in the 15 minutes between the cocktail hour ending, and the show beginning, as President of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Courtney B. Vance went on stage to share how SAG helped certain members in crisis during the strike, and provide updates on The Meryl Streep Center for Performing Artists being built, which will have a screening room named after Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. 

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the National Executive Director of SAG-AFTRA, also took to the stage to reflect on the group’s historic strike last year, and revealed the leaders of their sister unions were in attendance, having them stand up for the audience to applause.

Streep was eventually found on stage early in the show having a mini “The Devil Wears Prada” reunion on stage with co-stars Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt, arguably the best presenter moment of the night.

An important thing to note: the in-house audience was not subjected to the Tan France winners’ interview segments that became the key point of criticism of the commercial-less awards show. As those interviews played on mute on the screens, attendees would flock to the bathroom, making the line to it a schmoozing ground.

While attendees seated on the back platform inside the auditorium had to prairie-dog a bit to see each introduction of a Best Ensemble nominee, much of the same big moments that worked on TV resonated in the room, like Supporting Actress winner Da’Vine Joy Randolph making an artform out of reading her speech off a paper.

At the gala afterwards, it seemed like the Apple TV+ team were having the best time, with most of the “Ted Lasso” cast roaming the party in matching tracksuits in celebration of their (seemingly confirmed) last awards show together, and Best Actress Lily Gladstone holding court with her “Killers of the Flower Moon” costars, and her new statuette that really is 10 pounds heavier than whatever weight one would expect it to be.

Again, there is still more moments left to be had with the Independent Spirit Awards and Producers Guild Awards still on the horizon, but the SAG Awards did show how much it’s worth it to put energy into an Oscar campaign through the end.

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