Actresses from 'The Help' Take Top Honors at SAG
Black horse actor from 'The Artist' scoops best actor award
"The Help," a drama about two maids in Mississippi during the civil rights era stood out in 2011 in an American movie market glutted with 3-D and computer generated imagery. "The Help" took top honors at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last night, making it a film to watch as the Oscar awards approach.
Viola Davis won the best actress trophy, while Octavia Spencer was given the best supporting actress honor. "The Help" also won the best cast ensemble SAG award.
Davis reiterated the film's message about racial and gender equality in her acceptance speech. "The stain of racism and sexism is not just for people of color and women," Davis said. "It's all of our burden, all of us."
Davis' best actress win was a stunning surprise, as she beat out Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams, actresses who won Golden Globes two weeks ago.
Streep was nominated for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "Iron Lady," and Michelle Williams, was nominated for playing screen icon Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn."
One definite surprise was black horse candidate Jean Dujardin, who won the SAG best actor in a film award for his lead role in "The Artist," an offbeat black-and-white, silent film about 1920s Hollywood. The win gives Dujardin an apparent edge against George Clooney and the three other nominees in next month's Oscar best actor competition.
Most agree that Spencer's supporting actress SAG award makes her a clear front-runner for the supporting actress Oscar, considering she also won the Golden Globe.
"These women represent our mothers and grandmothers," Spencer said, referring to the maids portrayed in "The Help." "By honoring me, you're honoring them."
Longtime screen favorite Christopher Plummer, 82 years young, is clearly in the running for in the Academy Award best supporting actor competition by winning the SAG honor Sunday night for his role in "The Beginners."
"I just cannot tell you how much fun I've had being a member of the world's second oldest profession," Plummer said in his acceptance speech.
Hollywood's awards season neared mid-point Sunday night with the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild honors -- the only industry awards that solely recognize performers.
Unlike the Oscars, the SAG actor trophies go to both television and film actors and the winners are chosen by their acting peers.
On the prime-time television side, HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" won for best ensemble cast in a drama series for a second straight year. It was also the second consecutive time for the show's star Steve Buscemi to win the SAG best actor in a TV drama award his role of Enoch "Nucky" Thompson.
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