In addition to being a handy odds-calculator for the Oscars, the
Screen Actors Guild awards have one advantage of the other dozen-odd awards being
passed around this season: a Best Ensemble award. Slumdog Millionaire won in that category.
Sean Penn took the lead actor role away from some stiff
competition (admit it, Brad Pitt was pretty stiff in The Curious 1,500-hour
Long Case of Benjamin Button). Also running: Richard Jenkins, the dark-horse candidate
from The Visitor, Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon and Mickey Rourke in The
Meryl Streep’s killer nun in Doubt took the Best Actress
title in an unusually strong field, leaving behind Anne Hathaway’s
straight-out-of-rehab performance in Rachel Getting Married, Melissa Leo’s rather
excellent lady smuggler in Frozen River, Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road and Angelina Jolie in Changeling.
To no one’s surprise, Heath Ledger’s zeitgeisty Joker won Best
Supporting Actor. Winslet’s Dietrechesque war criminal in The Reader took Best Supporting
For the TV awards, Hugh Laurie’s sardonic Dr. House won best actor
in a drama over Jon Hamm in Mad Men, proving that a physically maimed role will
always be more popular than an emotionally maimed one. (Making up for this snub
of the best show on TV is the fact that Mad Men won best dramatic
Sally Field was really liked enough to get the lead actress for Brothers
and Sisters, with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin picking up best acting honors in
a TV comedy for 30 Rock. 30 Rock also won best comedy ensemble. Paul Giamatti
and Laura Linney took Best Actor and Actress in a miniseries as Mr. and Mrs.
Finally, James Earl Jones won a lifetime achievement award, as
long as he promises to do the Darth Vader voice every time he shows up.