Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Analysis of the “2012 SAG Award Winners” – Silly, but for the most part, not insultingly so…

I haven’t covered the Guild awards in the past, but since I’ve been doing a bit more Oscar coverage this year, I thought I would give you a brief rundown on my thoughts about the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which were announced tonight.  These are very significant in terms of the Academy Awards because actors form the largest branch of the academy.  If you want to win an Oscar pool and impress your friends, just pick the performers who won SAG Awards, because it’s a mathematical impossibility that they will lose in February.  In terms of TV awards, SAG is completely irrelevant, and all of their choices tonight were stupid (the nominations, of course, were even stupider). 

You can read the full list of SAG Award Winners, along with my commentary, after the jump….

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

"The Artist"


"The Descendants"

WINNER: "The Help"
"Midnight in Paris"

I’m actually very pleased with this award.  I’m not a huge fan of “The Help,” but so often the SAG voters go with which movie they liked the most, not which ensemble was the best.  “The Artist” and “The Descendants” are both better films than “The Help,” but neither have ensemble casts.  “The Help” is a real ensemble, with terrific performances by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, and many more.  It’s a wholly deserving winner.  Personally, I would have put the ensembles from “Bridesmaids” or “Midnight in Paris” above it, but “The Help” is nevertheless a worthy choice, and it’s really, really cool to see a cast comprised entirely of very talented women win this award.  That is, sadly, a rare occurrence. 

But before any of you “Help” fans start thinking that your favorite movie is going to win the Best Picture Oscar because of this award…hold your horses.  The Producer’s Guild and Director’s Guild both gave their top honor to “The Artist.”  If you’re familiar with how Oscar voting works, it’s pretty much a mathematical impossibility for “The Artist” to lose, even if the acting branch put their full weight behind “The Help.”  Which they won’t.  This is, after all, the ensemble award.  The actors could very well still find “The Artist” or other choices to be more deserving choices for the big award come Oscar night.    

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Demián Bichir, "A Better Life"

George Clooney, "The Descendants" 

Leonardo DiCaprio, "J. Edgar"

WINNER: Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"

Hmm.  Interesting.  Dujardin was excellent in “The Artist,” but I certainly didn’t expect him to win this one, given the hype Clooney has had behind him over the last few months.  I don’t necessarily think Dujardin deserves it, either, especially with Clooney and Pitt in this field.  But he’s a fine choice, and he’s now the clear frontrunner for the Oscar.  Of course, this is all completely illegitimate since Michael Fassbender wasn’t nominated for “Shame.”  I just want to make sure everybody understands that.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"

WINNER: Viola Davis, "The Help"
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"

Tilda Swinton, "We Need To Talk About Kevin"

Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"

No complaints here.  Davis was incredible in “The Help,” especially in the film’s powerful final sequence (the only part of the movie I feel works 100%).  I will be happy to see her win come Oscar night, which she is destined to do after winning this award.  Again, I personally would have gone with Swinton or Williams, but that doesn’t mean Davis isn’t deserving. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Brangah, "My Week with Marilyn"

Armie Hammer, "J. Edgar"

Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"

Nick Nolte, "Warrior"

WINNER: Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

You all know how much I adore “Beginners,” and Plummer in particular.  I can’t wait to see him accept his very first Oscar come February. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Bérénice Bejo, "The Artist"

Jassica Chastain "The Help"

Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"

Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
WINNER: Octavia Spencer, "The Help”

This is a boring and predictable choice, but not necessarily an egregious error, especially considering that the nominations put Chastain in the wrong film (she should be up for “Tree of Life,” not “The Help”) and failed to recognize Melanie Laurent for “Beginners” or Carey Mulligan for TWO performances that are better than any of the ones listed here.  Still, SAG is clearly interested in the “comedic sidekick” performance this year, and while Spencer was quite good, I feel McCarthy would have been a better choice for that particular niche. 

Female Actor - Movie or Miniseries
Diane Lane, "Cinema Verite"
Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"
Emily Watson, "Appropriate Adult"
Betty White, "The Lost Valentine"
WINNER: Kate Winslet, "Mildred Pierce"

Male Actor - Movie or Miniseries

Laurence Fishburne, "Thurgood"
WINNER: Paul Giamatti, "Too Big To Fail"
Greg Kinnear, "The Kennedys"
Guy Pearce, "Mildred Pierce"
James Woods, "Too Big to Fail"

Female Actor - Comedy Series
Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"
WINNER: Betty White, "Hot in Cleveland"

I’m just commenting on this one to point out what an entirely useless award it is.  Why?  Well, for one, SAG mixes lead and supporting TV performances into one field, and they failed to recognize the best eligible performance, Amy Poehler in “Parks and Recreation.”  So this entire category is illegitimate for multiple reasons.  I have no real opinion one way or the other of Betty White. 

Male Actor - Comedy Series

WINNER: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"
Steve Carell, "The Office"
Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men"
Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"

This is, as I understand it, Alec Baldwin’s sixth straight win for “30 Rock.”  I’m sure he’s deserving, but so is Steve Carell, and it’s absolutely ridiculous that Carell couldn’t get one single award for his final year playing Michael Scott.  Bullocks, I say, bullocks!  Oh, and once again, we’ve got lead and supporting mixed all in one, so it’s a useless award to begin with.

Ensemble - Comedy Series

"30 Rock"
"The Big Bang Theory"
WINNER: "Modern Family"
"The Office"

Yawn.  They didn’t even nominate “Parks and Recreation,” so I can’t take this award seriously.  To add insult to injury, they nominated “Glee?”  Really?  You think “Glee” is one of the best comedies on TV?  Oy.  I was unaware the SAG voters were 16 year old girls.  Anyway…the winner, “Modern Family,” is a perfectly deserving, if 100 percent boring, choice given what was actually nominated.   

Female Actor - Drama Series

Kathy Bates, "Harry's Law"
Glenn Close, "Damages"
WINNER: Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story"
Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"

No Claire Danes nomination for “Homeland” means this category is entirely useless, regardless of the winner.

Male Actor - Drama Series

Patrick James Adams, "Suits"
WINNER: Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"
Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"

Really?  Steve Buscemi over Bryan Cranston?  Really?  Look, I like “Boardwalk Empire,” and I love Steve Buscemi, but….Bryan Cranston and “Breaking Bad” exist, so how can you pick anything else?

Ensemble - Drama Series

WINNER: "Boardwalk Empire"
"Breaking Bad"
"Game of Thrones"
"The Good Wife"

Again…really??!?!?!? I like the ensemble on “Boardwalk Empire,” but it can’t hold a candle to the work Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito, and the rest of the “Breaking Bad” cast did this season.  This is a very silly winner, though not as silly as nominating “Dexter,” which is basically a one man show for Michael C. Hall.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

"The Adjustment Bureau"

"Cowboys & Aliens"

WINNER: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

"X-Men: First Class"

The idea of a stunt ensemble award is cool, and “Potter” is entirely deserving.  But why was “Adjustment Bureau” nominated?

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series


WINNER: "Game of Thrones"

"Spartacus: Gods of the Arena"

"True Blood"

Very deserving winner.  “Game of Thrones” is a true TV epic, and much of the praise should go to the stunt team. 

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