What did the Screen Actors Guild Awards tell us?
We learned that the actors union loves “The Help,” a sentimental drama given little chance of winning the best picture Oscar on Feb. 26. “The Help” won three prizes, including top ensemble. The SAG prizes, which were presented Sunday, confirmed that Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) are the likely victors in supporting categories.
In the night’s biggest surprise, the guild honored Jean Dujardin, the mostly silent lead actor of “The Artist.” The win suggests that Dujardin and not Brad Pitt (of “Moneyball”) is the strongest competition for George Clooney, who has been seen as the Oscar front-runner for “The Descendants.”
Viola Davis won best actress for “The Help,” bolstering her chances against Meryl Streep of “The Iron Lady” at the Oscars. In a lovely speech, Davis saluted Streep and Cicely Tyson as inspirations.
In television, the drama ensemble of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and star Steve Buscemi were repeat winners. so, too, was the comedy ensemble of ABC’s ”Modern Family.” The union saluted old favorites: Betty White of TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland,” Alec Baldwin of NBC’s “30 Rock” and Jessica Lange of FX’s “American Horror Story.”
TV legend Mary Tyler Moore received the guild’s Life Achievement Award. The moment might not have delivered the emotional payoff that fans hoped for, seeing Moore reunited with TV husband Dick Van Dyke.
Still, Moore looked good for her 75 years. Moore talked about the importance of her name and how she registered as Mary Tyler Moore with the guild. She may have read her comments, but they were coherent. Above all, she spoke briefly. That is an example very much worth following.