I, your Chicago Horror Examiner, have been a member of AFTRA for almost 20 years, and a member of SAG since the merger this past year. (I’m a member due to some voice-over work I’ve done over the years.) It’s exciting to be part of both actors’ unions and especially exciting in that I got to vote for this year’s SAG awards. Thus, I watched Sunday’s show as a critic, member and a voter for the first time.
The SAG Awards are a no-frills awards show. No host, no musical numbers, no dance troupe Stomp gyrating to the scores from the year’s Best Picture nominees. Thank God for that! And the ‘actors’, as the attractive statuettes are called, start getting handed out in the first minutes of the show.
There were few surprises in the film categories. As most film pundits predicted, film’s best supporting actor and actress went to Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln” (a no-show) and Anne Hathaway for “Les Miserables”. Jennifer Lawrence continued to rack up awards for her lead role in “Silver Linings Playbook” and is running neck-and-neck with Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) in the upcoming Oscar Best Actress race. And it was almost inevitable that Daniel Day-Lewis won for his towering performance as “Lincoln”, my pick for film and performance of the year (http://exm.nr/Yauxc5).
“Argo” continues to win top prizes, despite Oscar’s unbelievable snubbing of director Ben Affleck, and tonight it won the best film ensemble award. Does this suggest that “Argo” may win Best Picture at the Oscars in February? It could. There clearly is a lot of support for the film amongst actors, which is the largest voting block in the Academy.
On the TV side, the SAG voting actors do love consistency. They voted Alec Baldwin his 7th individual award for “30 Rock.” And Tina Fey won her 4th individual award for the same program. “Modern Family” took the ensemble award, like it has the last 3 years. And Kevin Costner and Julianne Moore have now won the Emmy, the Golden Globe and the SAG Awards for their performances in “The Hatfields & McCoys” and “Game Change”, respectively.
In dramatic series work there were some firsts. Bryan Cranston won his first SAG actor award for his work on “Breaking Bad” this past season. (He also was part of the ensemble win for “Argo”.) Claire Danes won the SAG actress award for the role in “Homeland”, a role that Nicole Kidman said in The Hollywood Reporter this week was the best female role in Hollywood in 2012 (http://bit.ly/Yy9XGO). The best ensemble went to “Downton Abbey”.
It’s always nice that they call out the other various unions that help make movies and TV shows, as well as honoring those who have passed in the last calendar year. And how wonderful it was to see the still fit and handsome Dick Van Dyke receiving the SAG lifetime achievement award. The salute to him was lovely but they forgot to mention his wonderful performance as an aging silent film star in 1969’s “The Comic”. (Available here: http://bit.ly/14ot19P)
On stage there didn’t seem to be any fashion disasters, but Anne Hathaway certainly was one of the best dressed. I thought the funniest line of the night was when Tina Fey called out Amy Poehler during her acceptance speech exclaiming, “I’ve loved you since you were pregnant with Lena Dunham!” And the “In Memoriam” tribute is always moving, though I wish they’d had an audio clip of the late, great Ben Gazzara.
All in all, it was a sharp, tightly focused show with some lovely speeches (particularly Daniel Day-Lewis, mentioning that an actor killed Lincoln so he was glad to help bring him back to life). And it was done in an economical two hours. Now, the Oscars await and if the SAG Awards are any indication, there will be many consistencies and perhaps, a few big surprises. And as a movie Examiner, and a SAG-AFTRA member, I can hardly wait!