SAG Awards Give a Boost to the Best Actor Race


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With just under a month to go until the Oscars, the 18thannual Screen Actors Guild awards presentation solidified the conventional wisdom as to who the front-runners are in this year's Best Picture and four acting categories ? or at least, in three of 'em.



Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer continued to dominate the supporting actor categories for their work in Beginners andThe Help, respectively. Meanwhile, as I predicted,The Help's Viola Davis emerged as the one to beat in the lead actress race, also forThe Help, besting Golden Globe winner Meryl Streep.The Helpwon a third award for its acting ensemble, which can often serve as a harbinger for the Best Picture race, but often just rewards a big ensemble in a highly-acclaimed film. I still thinkThe Artistis the one to beat in the big race. More about that later.

Paul Giamatti and Kate Winslet each took home their third statuettes in the individual acting categories, for HBO'sToo Big To FailandMildred Pierce, respectively. For Winslet, this completed her awards trifecta, following the Emmy and Golden Globe. The ensembles ofBoardwalk EmpireandModern Familyalso took home awards.

Jessica Lange finally earned her first SAG after two prior nods forAmerican Horror Story, after repeat wins for Julianna Margulies.Boardwalk's Steve Buscemi, meanwhile, took home a second consecutive award. In a bit introduced byBridesmaids' introducers Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig, Buscemi brought a glass up to take a drink when thanking producer Martin Scorsese, except presenter Tina Fey had, rather oddly, removed his glass from the podium when the time came. (More odd, to me ? why doesBridesmaidsco-star Rose Byrne never ever get to represent the movie with her co-stars? She was there at the ceremony. This is rather telling, methinks.)

Fey's co-star Alec Baldwin won his sixth consecutive award for30 Rock, which led me to do some eye-rolling. Six? Do actors really prize his work that much above peers like Steve Carell, Jim Parsons and theModern Familymen? It was similar déjavu as Betty White won again forHot in Cleveland. I like how the nonagenarian is a novel act again, but let's get real. There's better comedic acting going on on the tube.

White'sMary Tyler Moore Showco-star (andClevelandguest star), Mary Tyler Moore, received this year's lifetime achievement award, though her intro reel lacked much footage of her eponymous show (no "Chuckles Bites the Dust" clip?) and didn't bother to show off her great '90s achievement,Flirting with Disaster. Stunt ensembles forHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2andTrue Bloodalso won competitive awards.

But the big surprise came when Natalie Portman revealedArtistlead Jean Dujardin as this year's Best Actor, riding a similar wave of sentiment that carried Roberto Benigni to the podium thirteen years ago. Can Dujardin take the big prize in what many (or at least me) had perceived to be a two-man race between George Clooney and Brad Pitt? We have 27 days to find out. But, at long last, I'm finally in suspense.





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