The Screen Actors Guild awards were handed out last night. No big deal, and no huge surprises. Of course, these awards carry a great deal of prestige because they are given to actors BY actors, and in many ways, makes this a more focused and fun event. For the winners, the awards are a great personal joy, and you can easily see the recipients reliving the joys of being in their profession.
For most of the rest of the film world, however, they are (unfairly) just another precursor to the Oscars. In that context, I don’t think there’s a lot of big news here. This morning’s entertainment portion of the news on my local radio station says that because The Help won the “Best Ensemble” award, there is now a new competitor to the current two-film Best Picture Oscar race between The Artist and The Descendants. I don’t believe that. Best Ensemble is focused on the acting, and since Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer both won their individual awards, and Jessica Chastain was nominated alongside Spencer, it’s not a leap to see the guild go for The Help. The Descendants only had one acting nomination (unfortunately—Shailene Woodley, as they say, wuz robbed) and The Artist only had two. It was a Davis/Spencer coronation last night, and The Help received the reflected glory. Can’t imagine that vote affecting the Oscars.
It’s not hard to predict the future Oscar winners of two out of the four acting categories last night. Christopher Plummer’s gracious acceptance speech virtually guaranteed his receiving his life achievement Oscar this year. Spencer is the same kind of lock for The Help that Mo’Nique was with Precious two years ago.
Jean Dujardin was the surprise choice for Best Male Actor in The Artist, and I hope that extends to the Academy Awards. Hollywood is in love with Clooney, and this choice is perhaps the strongest signal yet that Clooney’s nomination for The Descendants may be award enough. Clooney was very, very good in that film, and has moved me as he never has before. But Dujardin in The Artist is a marvel. Go, SAG.
The Best Female Actor award going to Davis can be viewed two ways. One perspective says this locks her in for the Oscars. The other perspective says that since Davis won here, Streep was therefore—you pick the word—snubbed, ignored, passed over, whatever. Streep, who is loved by Hollywood almost as much as Clooney and who nailed her part in The Iron Lady, could get a kind of “let’s not forget this great performance that elevated a mediocre film” and “ Davis got the SAG, so let’s balance these two great performances” award.
As always, we’ll see.