Actors boost momentum of The Help
America’s biggest acting union has given three of its top prizes to the 1960s civil rights drama, The Help, boosting the film’s awards season momentum, as the Oscars draw closer.
The film, in which a young journalist persuades a group of black Mississippi maids to dish the dirt on their wealthy white mistresses, upset the direction of travel of this year’s awards by taking the best ensemble trophy – the Screen Actors Guild’s equivalent of a best picture. But this trophy has correctly predicted the Oscar winner in the corresponding category only eight times in the sixteen year history of the awards.
By virtue of the fact that such a big proportion of the Academy members are actors, SAG has a much better record when it comes to the specific acting awards; last year, with Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, all four Actor winners went on to collect the Oscar too.
That’s not good news for Meryl Streep, who until these awards was seen as the front-runner for the Oscar for playing Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, because SAG gave its best leading actress prize to The Help’s Viola Davis. Her co-star Octavia Spencer, won the best supporting actress trophy.
The actors chose the star of the French silent film The Artist, Jean Dujardin, as their best actor of the year, over some of the biggest names in Hollywood, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Christopher Plummer followed up his Golden Globe for Beginners with SAG’s Actor trophy for best supporting actor.
The Screen Actors Guild also honours television at its glittering ceremony, held every January at the Shrine auditorium near Downtown LA.
It’s best ensemble cast for a TV comedy was Modern Family, with 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin chosen as the best actor in a TV comedy and Betty White picking up the best TV comic actress prize for Hot In Cleveland, less than two weeks after her ninetieth birthday.
Boardwalk Empire was the best ensemble cast for a TV drama, with its star Steve Buscemi picking up the best dramatic TV actor. Jessica Lange was the best actress in a TV drama for American Horror Story.
In the TV movie or miniseries categories, Kate Winslet repeated her Golden Globe success for Mildred Pierce and Paul Giamatti won for Too Big to Fail.