Last Sunday, Jan. 27, marked the 19th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on TNT and TBS. Praised by journalists and the general public alike for its unique approach, simplicity and sincerity in honoring actors in film and television, the SAG Awards serves as the only live and on-screen awards show to exclusively honor performers. It presented thirteen accolades in a fast-paced, two-hour show. The awards highlight individual performances and the work of entire ensembles, emphasizing the critical fact that acting is a collaborative art. The SAG Awards is also distinctive in the size of its voting body and the way in which winners are selected: two arbitrarily-chosen committees of 2,100 people nationwide elect the nominees and all 100,000+ active members of the SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild & American Federation of Television & Radio Artists) pick the singular, superior performance in each category. It is truly a judgement of peers.
This year, the television series and movies honored for nominations were rather expected: Oscar-candidates Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln led the list of film nominees with four nominations each, and the well-known TV series Breaking Bad, Modern Family, Downton Abbey and 30 Rock all nabbed multiple nominations.
Without a doubt, some of the biggest winners of the night were the drama film Argo, Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln, and Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook. After winning a similar title at the Producers Guild Awards, Argo reaffirmed its place as an Oscar favorite by taking the best ensemble prize and leading honors. Day-Lewis and Lawrence won for their respective Outstanding Performance by an Actor/Actress in a Leading Role. Anne Hathaway took the honors for her supporting role in Les Miserables while Lincoln was revered yet again for Tommy Lee Jones’s supporting actor role.
In television, 30 Rock won for both Lead Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series (Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey, respectively). Downton Abbey was honored for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, while Modern Family won for the equivalent prize in the comedic category.
Ultimately, the SAG awards do not reach the level of entertainment or notoriety that the Golden Globes or other similar ceremonies might, but it surely has its delights. Principally, a lack of pointless presenter chatting allowed the show to breeze by and focus on the winners and their reactions. In this manner, the SAG awards introduced viewers to the more human versions of major celebrities and things rarely seen in the world of modern media.
Occurring a month before the biggest award shows of the year—the Academy Awards (also called the Oscars)–the SAG Awards are a fantastic precursor and predictor of things to come for Hollywood and fans alike.
Plan to watch the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, to see if some of the same winners remain on top.