Screen Actors Guild Awards

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3/10/02: A quick word for those of you checking this page early in the day: God and Yahoo willing, we will be covering the SAG Awards in real time, the way we did the Globes. Fortunately, the SAGs--which are on TNT, for those of you with American TV and/or cable access--are only slated to last two hours, unlike the cramp-inducing typefest we had last time. There's only five awards we're actually all that interested in, honestly--Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Ensemble. Because it's just actors tonight--as one producer said, "Nothin' but stars, baby." The rest are TV acting awards (all right, fine, we'll tell you who won those too). We may have a slight problem in that, as many international readers have asked us to cover this, an equal number have expressed interest in the Star Wars trailer on Fox at roughly 8 pm. Fortunately, TNT is rerunning the show immediately after the live broadcast ends (that's 7-9 and 9-11 Digest time; check your own listings), so if we miss anything, we'll fill in the gaps later.

6:55: Okay, so we're a little less festive for these awards--no red carpet cattiness and no predictions (mostly because we just really, really can't call them this time--especially because the categories got so mixed up due to that "Jennifer Connelly for Best Actress" clerical error Universal is still smacking themselves for. It's called awards fatigue, people--in all my ten years of Oscaring, I've never had to keep up with them quite this strenuously. But I do it all for you, okay? Yeah, because it's just me alone tonight. Cleo. I do it all for you.

(Man, will "Stepmom" never finish over here on TNT???)

Little back story on these awards--this is only the eighth ceremony, so they're still fairly new....only five movie actor awards, as noted above, so...

7:00: Ah! We're starting! Nicole! Elijah and the hobbit boys! Jim Broadbent! Russell Crowe! Jennifer Connelly! Sissy Spacek!

Sir Ian McKellen comes out (no joke intended)--yay! "I've been given a couple of moments to talk about acting,"
he says, and a strange burst of sappy music swells. Sir Ian makes a face heavenwards and the audience cracks up. (Cut to Russell Crowe, laughing. Sir Ian, you are a talented man indeed!) He makes a joke about the many tones of the phrase "good morning"--the tone you use for "whomever you wake up next to," for your agent, and, f you're lucky, a casting director (for this, he kneels. I am afraid to read too much into this). I would tell you more, but I'm too busy watching...

7:04: So he's said his nice piece, and Kate Beckinsale comes out to present Supporting Actor...the nominees are Jim Broadbent (Iris), Hayden Christensen (Life as House), Ethan Hawke (Training Day), Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast), the aforesaid Sir Ian (Lord of the Rings). "And the Actor goes to--" YAY!!!!!!!!!!! Sir Ian!!!

"I thought I'd already had my turn," he says, and talks about how the British Actors' Equity gave him an award that actually included a check, but make no mistake, he's breaking up a bit. And says he owes everything to Peter Jackson. Really, really classy (Hissyfit, you taking notes?).

7:08: Nicole comes out to introduce Moulin Rouge (AngelDust has joined me now--"Who is that?" she blurts out. "Nicole," I say. "I know," she says. "WHO IS THAT?" Apparently Ms. Kidman's glasses are throwing her off.) To our delight, the clip they show is "Spectacular Spectacular" ("So! Ex!ci!ting!). To AD's rage, that is all they show ("That was both ghetto AND bootleg!"). I am still trying to figure out what she meant by "ghetto" and "bootleg."

(Between commercials, we're rereading the
Globes pages to get back into the groove. Really, you must forgive us for the heinous typos there--really, this is me typing in real time, head craned 90 degrees to watch the TV).

7:14: Outstanding Male Actor in a Comedy Series. We're not here for the TV people, folks, but oh well, we'll tell you who wins anyway. (One good clip, for David Hyde Pierce: He threatens to tell his dad Daphne's childhood nickname ["Daffy"]. "Is it worse than 'Piles'?" deadpans John Mahoney.) Sean Hayes wins for Will & Grace.

Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy Series. (Good clip: Ray Romano trying to put out a kitchen fire with a garden hose from 15 feet away. Patricia Heaton comes in, sees it, shrieks--and promptly puts it out with a fire extinguisher from a cabinet.) Megan Mullally, also of W&G, wins.

Outstanding Ensemble for a Comedy Series--Man, we are really clockin' over here. Winner: Sex & the City (or La Sexe et la Ville, as we with the Diehard DVD Player Subtitles fondly call it).

7:26: WHY IS ALF DOING COMMERCIALS? ("I thought he died," murmurs AD. Cleo's note for those outside the U.S. who asked: ALF is a furry "alien" puppet from a horrible '80s TV show.)

7:30: Little Dakota Fanning gets up to present a special kid-actor tribute. Is this really necessary, people? Actually, it's kinda entertaining--young Kirsten Dunst in Interview with a Vampire, Natalie Portman in The Professional, Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street, Judy Garland, Macaulay Culkin, Jodie Foster--even new SAG president Melissa Gilbert--a tiny Elijah Wood sporting a fake Southern accent, Kurt Russell, Jonathan Lipnicki, River Phoenix, Sean Astin--seriously, I can't type any faster, people. Oh, and a young "Helen Hunt" that is clearly a clip of Leelee Sobieski. I'm pretty sure, anyway.

7:34: Sissy Spacek comes out to present Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett (she recites from "Total Eclipse of the Heart" hilariously in a Bandits clip); Judi Dench (The Shipping News); Cameron Diaz (Vanilla Sky--FREAK!!); aforesaid Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam), grinning ear to ear in her seat; Helen Mirren (Gosford Park). Helen Mirren wins. "Please tell me she was better than that clip," says AD. She was; they just couldn't show a better clip without giving away plot. "Isn't he darling!" cries Mirren of her Actor statue. "I saw him down there and wondered if he had pants on...and he doesn't!" And she talks about how all actors are "rogues and vagabonds," like they were called in the olden days, and it's a charming speech.

7:38: Elijah Wood comes up to present the Lord of the Rings clip, a generic montage rather than a scene like Moulin Rouge's. "He's so small!" cries AD. I personally am still staggered by that "child actor clip" from five minutes ago--what did I call him at the Globes, "apple-cheeked delicious"? Yeah, sounds about right.

7:44: Best Actress in a Drama Series: Presenters Keri Russell and Damon Wayans inexplicably crack up as they open the envelope. The West Wing's Allison Janney wins; I've personally thought she was cool ever since I realized she was both the catatonic mom in American Beauty and the crazed counselor in 10 Things I Hate About You.

Best Actor in a Drama Series: Martin Sheen wins for the West Wing.

7:52: Okay, I'm gonna risk it, but while Sheen's giving his speech, and hoping that they'll probably cut to commercial afterwards, we're flipping over to Fox to catch the end of Malcolm in the Middle--and the Star Wars trailer afterwards. Again, I personally am not a big SW fan, but I feel compelled to catch this trailer--hang on, gotta go to a different TV, AD's kicking me out.

8:01: AD informs me that West Wing just won Best Drama Ensemble. So I nipped into another room and watched the trailer while she monitored the SAGs...and then came into watch the trailer with me. More on that in a bit.

Newly reconfirmed SAG president Melissa Gilbert comes out, having just (re)won late this week. She, too, is nattering on about actors, their work, the other guilds, the blah and the blah and the blah. Unfortunately, Sir Ian's prefab piece earlier was more entertaining.

Ah, and here's Tom Selleck to present the
Lifetime Achievement Award to Ed Asner. No disrespect, but as TV's not really our game at the Digest, let's discuss the Star Wars trailer, shall we? I'm not going to say I was underwhelmed--it's more that I just don't have the SW background, I suppose, to really appreciate what I was seeing. I am waiting for Hayden Christensen's Anakin to become more than a spoiled, mouthy brat (and judging by his SAG nomination tonight, I'm not thinking this is the fault of bad acting--not entirely, anyway), and I have yet to see it. But okay. Ewan McGregor tickles the Girls of Digest with his plummy Sir Alec Guinness impression--it's weird to have just seen him in Moulin Rouge last weekend as the dark-headed, passionately naive Christian, and now see him mutter, "Oh, blast!" imperiously through his sandy beard in a Also, Christopher Lee rocks our world (did you catch him busting up on Christensen with not one but two light sabers?). All in all--I personally did not see Phantom Menace in the theater. I suspect I will go see this one, in the theater for McGregor and Lee alone. And Samuel L. Jackson (who was in the first one, I know. But anyway). It's my personal taste (my unfortunate personal taste, as a few fans I know would say) that this really didn't do it for me the way some of the LOTR trailers did, but--man, is it a vast improvement over the schmoopy love trailer currently in theaters. By the way--if you wanna catch this one in theaters, go to Ice Age this Friday--they said so on Fox.

8:20: PSA: TNT just ran a commercial reminding you that they're airing The Mists of Avalon again next weekend. Catch this one, kids. Highly recommended.

Okay. About half an hour more. Let's get this party started, shall we?

Marisa Tomei comes out to present a clip from In the Bedroom. "[AngelDust]!" I yell. "It's back on!" She comes barrelling back into Digest headquarters, slipping on the carpet and into the room like there's a home plate. "Safe!" I cry.

Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries:
Judy Davis, for Me and My Shadows.

Rachel Griffiths (and Esai Morales) come out to present
Best Actor/ TV Movie/ Miniseries. Bless her heart, she looks so much better than when she was wearing that pink feather boa/dress at the Globes when she won. "I think there should be a 'Sir' here," says Griffiths as she opens the envelope--and indeed, it goes to Ben Kingsley. He gets up and says his performance was basically nothing but a "reaction" to young Hannah Taylor Gordon's portrayal of Anne Frank. Again, very, very classy.

Minnie Driver begins the In Memoriam clips.
Aaliyah and George Harrison are even given slots. A lot of these actors, however, I'm not familiar with--so at least they're going beyond just the well-known names. The reel ends with a clip of Jack Lemmon accepting an Actor statuette a couple of years back. Very touching.

8:38: Last year's Best Actor winner, Benicio del Toro comes out to present Best Actress (you'll remember, he ended up winning Best Supporting--another reason the SAGs are useful predictors...up to a point). Nominees: Halle Berry (Monster's Ball); Jennifer Connelly (Beautiful Mind--up for Supporting at the Oscars); Judi Dench (Iris); Sissy Spacek (In the Bedroom); Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones' Diary). OH MY GOD! UPSET WIN BY HALLE BERRY! Berry is visibly tearing up--a passionate speech, too. Wow--considering that actors voted for this one, and that they make up a large contingent of the Academy--this throws a serious, serious wrench into the Best Actress race.

Ryan Philippe presents a clip from
Gosford Park; Uma Thurman comes out to present Best Actor. Steel yourselves, folks: Russell Crowe (Beautiful Mind); Kevin Kline (Life as a House); Sean Penn (I Am Sam); Denzel Washington (Training Day); Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom). The winner: Russell Crowe. Oh, Lordy. "You know, I'm a storyteller," he starts out, speaking evenly on the theme of narrative: "We are storytellers." Dude, did you memorize this speech? Were you that sure you'd win? Bonus points: His speech is, however, quick and concise, ending with "Good night." No poems, no hissyfits. Damn, it was downright classy--guess he really was taking notes.

8:55: Will Smith comes out to present Best Ensemble. Nominees: Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, Lord of the Rings, Moulin Rouge. Oh, Lord, the winner: Gosford Park. Somehow, this doesn't surprise me--it had twice as many castmembers as any other movie (I know, because I saw it), and in a year with Moulin Rouge and Lord of the Rings, that's saying a lot. Bob Balaban's "collective acceptance speech" ("Thank you to all our agents, drama coaches, high school drama teachers, parents, spouses and significant others, children and babysitters who enabled us to be here tonight...") is a gem. However, I would caution you Oscar Pooler from taking this as an Oscar predictor: "Best Cast" is one thing. One thing that disregards a lot of other things. Not to devalue Gosford Park's win, because it did have a damn fine cast, but looking at previous winners (see left sidebar), "Best Cast" can sometimes take on shadings of "Most Cast." As for the other acting trophies though...I still don't know what to tell you about those. Watch for an Oscar Playoffs column later this week after the dust has settled...

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This is kinda off-topic, but I'm gonna tell you a really funny story I heard this weekend anyway. It's 9 something pm right now and TNT's rerunning the show, and I just realized that Kate Beckinsale, who presented Sir Ian McKellen his word, starred with him in Cold Com- fort Farm. So, speaking of CCF, I was reading an article in which Sir Ian was describing his first meeting with director Bryan Singer--he wanted the Nazi-in-hiding Kurt Dussander part in Apt Pupil (which he ended up playing admirably). Singer told him that he wasn't old enough for the part--"And really, I wasn't," admits Sir Ian, who was 57 at the time--to which Singer added, he really, really wanted someone like "the old man in Cold Comfort Farm." You can fill in the punchline to this one, can't you?
Curious as to who won Best Cast in previous years?

2001 Traffic

2000 American Beauty

1999 Shakespeare in Love

1998 The Full Monty

1997 The Birdcage

1996 Apollo 13

For full lists of winners in all categories, check out the official
SAG Awards page.