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What Happened Between Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston at the SAG Awards?

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston  smiling at each other on a red carpet.
The great unknown. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

The SAG Awards have come and gone, and as usual, the night’s biggest winner was the inexorable passage of time, that irreversible arrow that faithfully points our way to the grave while making the past forever unknowable. You guessed it: There was celebrity drama between Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston! Something happened between the two actors and ex-spouses on Sunday night, and no one is entirely certain exactly what it was. However, because the event was captured on camera from multiple angles, it may be possible to gather enough photographic evidence to lead us to a better understanding of the incident between Pitt and Aniston, our own pasts, and ultimately, our very selves. So here is everything we know—indeed, everything that can be known—about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s backstage encounter at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on the night of January 19, 2020.

Tensions were already high on the red carpet earlier that night, when Entertainment Tonight asked Aniston about the press’s fascination with the possibility that she might run into her ex-husband at awards shows. “It’s hysterical, but what else are they going to talk about?” Aniston told the reporters, shortly before the tabloid press erupted with baseless gossip about the meaning of their brief backstage encounter, which we, a legitimate news organization, are now covering with the rigor and solemnity it deserves.

But Pitt and Aniston had what can only be described as “an extremely significant moment, in terms of news value,” during Pitt’s acceptance speech for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his work in Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood. Here’s the speech, in which Pitt joked, “Let’s be honest, it was a difficult part: a guy who gets high, takes his shirt off, and doesn’t get on with his wife—it was a big stretch.” Watch for the reaction shot of Aniston clapping politely:

Now in this clip, we’ve isolated the reaction shot and slowed it down to 5 percent of its original speed, giving viewers more time to stare into Aniston’s eyes, the very windows to her soul—or, more accurately, to stare at a grid of light emitting diodes as it attempts to reproduce the light that reflected off the aforementioned windows to Ms. Aniston’s soul and into a camera lens earlier Sunday night—and with any luck, enabling them to come to a definitive understanding of exactly what Jennifer Aniston was thinking in that moment, even as it recedes forever into the mists of time.

Later in the show, cameras caught Pitt watching Aniston receive the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for The Morning Show. This time, Pitt was captured from multiple angles, which should make it easier to build the three-dimensional computer simulations of the incident we’ll need to fully analyze the micro-expressions crossing Pitt’s face. Here is the raw footage:

And here is that same footage at 10 percent speed, complete with absolutely horrifying—but possibly historically significant—slowed-down audio. It’s three minutes long, and if you are truly committed to learning everything that can be known about the current mental and emotional states of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, you’ll carefully study every frame:

And now here’s the same scene from a different angle—or more accurately, from more or less the same angle, but slightly further away and at a different time, which should be enough to perform the necessary laser triangulations required to build an accurate three-dimensional model of Brad Pitt’s face as it appeared on the night of January 19, 2020:

Here’s a third angle, providing even more data:

And even more:

Finally, here are two still images, which will doubtless serve as invaluable records when determining the original light sources and camera angles that produced the moving images:

Shortly afterward, Aniston was captured on camera at the moment she heard that Pitt got teary-eyed while watching her speech from backstage. “Nooooo,” Aniston said in disbelief:

And then came the incident itself, a backstage encounter between Pitt and Aniston for which the historical record is woefully inadequate. Here are all the photographs of the encounter that were carried by Getty Images, in approximate chronological order. In cases where multiple versions of the same photograph were included, we have chosen to publish widest angle, to aid Congressional investigators should they need to subpoena the bystanders:

Jennifer Aniston smiling at Brad Pitt.
Angle A, photograph 1. Note the photographer, presumably Vivien Killilea (Angle B), partially obscured by Pitt’s head. Vivien Killilea/Getty Images
Jennifer Aniston approaches Brad Pitt on the red carpet.
Angle B, photograph 1. Note the photographer, presumably Emma McIntyre (Angle A), holding a camera above Pitt’s head. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
A high angle shot of Jennifer Aniston smiling at Brad Pitt.
Angle A, photograph 2. Vivien Killilea/Getty Images
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston on the red carpet.
Angle B, photograph 2. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
Jennifer Aniston, teary-eyed, smiling at Brad Pitt.
Angle A, photograph 3. Vivien Killilea/Getty Images
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston smiling at each other.
Angle A, photograph 4. Vivien Killilea/Getty Images
Jennifer Aniston leans in toward Brad Pitt to tell him something.
Angle A, photograph 5. Vivien Killilea/Getty Images
Jennifer Aniston turns away from Brad Pitt on the red carpet.
Angle B, photograph 3. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
Jennifer Aniston walking away from Brad Pitt at the SAG Awards.
Angle B, photograph 4. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

The male photographer visible in Angle B, photograph 4 has not yet been identified, nor has the witness pictured near Pitt and Aniston, who might have been in a position to overhear what they were saying, or at least hear vague murmuring sounds from their direction. Now here is a photograph we will refer to from here on out as “The Vincent Photograph,” after its photographer, Bruno Vincent. It depicts the wax figures of Pitt and Aniston, said to feature “squeezable bottoms and stroke-able silicone chests,” as unveiled at Madame Tussauds in London back in 2004, shortly before the couple split up. Is it a clue? A warning? Better safe than sorry!

Dead-eyed wax sculptures of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.
This means something. Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

While the implications of the Vincent Photograph will take decades to fully parse, it’s already clear that Sunday night’s 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards was the most epistemologically fraught night of glitz and glamor in Hollywood history. So as the truth about the backstage encounter between actors Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston at this year’s SAG Awards slips quietly away into the vasty halls of Time and Memory, we should hold on tightly to the one conclusion we can confidently draw from this mysterious incident: All things considered, it isn’t any of our goddamned business.