Entertainment :: Movies

Award Watch 2011 :: The SAG Awards -- a new ball game?

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Monday Jan 31, 2011
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What a difference a weekend makes.

That’s what the producers of The King’s Speech must be thinking tonight after the film picked up the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. This coming off the win on Saturday night for Tom Hooper for the Director’s Guild Award and The King’s Speech moves ahead of The Social Network for Best Picture.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. There’s long been a feeling amongst Oscar soothsayers that The Social Network was poised to fade. Early favorites often do and David Fincher’s dark take on the making of Facebook is not the kind of film that the Hollywood establishment gives its highest honor to. Perhaps it just comes down to The King’s Speech plays better on television (the medium, ironically, where most voters watch the nominees) than The Social Network. Or it could be the push by the Weinstein Company -- (ex-Miramax owners Harvey and Bob Weinstein) to take home their first Best Picture Oscar that is driving the momentum.

King’s Speech moves up

Whatever it is, The King’s Speech is on a roll. It even has its own brewing controversy: whether it whitewashes the historical record in King George VI’s response to the coming War in Europe. In Hooper’s film, George VI wants to get rid of his stammer so he can rally his nation against the impending threat posed by the Nazis. But over the past month, and most tellingly in a column by Christopher Hitchens on the Slate website, stories have been emerging that paint a different picture of the stuttering monarch. In this scenario, George VI didn’t want to accept the resignation of then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain after Hitler invaded Poland. He was also cool on choosing Winston Churchill to be his successor, instead wanted another (Lord Halifax) who followed Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement.

"All this can easily be known by anybody willing to do some elementary research," Hitchens asserts in putting down the film’s veracity. Whether or not this has a negative effect on The King’s Speech chances for Best Picture remains to be seen, but as of now, it has hardly registered a ripple.

Fact vs fiction

Not to suggest that The Social Network doesn’t have its own issues with the truth. For instance, did Mark Zuckerberg start it out of wanting to further his social standing at Harvard and to get back at an ex-girlfriend? It, like The King’s Speech, is a fictionalized account based on real-life characters, not a documentary. That Zuckerberg appeared on Saturday Night Live smiling (it was reported) to his on-screen counterpart Jesse Eisenberg only proves the old adage -- if you can’t beat them, join them.

Or would it be there’s no such thing as bad publicity and that may be why the Facebook team is making such an about-face in their response to Fincher’s film. The fact the The Social Network’s producer Scott Rudin thanked the Facebook team when picking up the Golden Globe earlier this month and says he’s in daily contact with Facebook’s pr department only makes it appear that the rivalry between the pre-eminent social network and The Social Network has waned.

As for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, they were given out in a smooth, if a bit dull ceremony in Hollywood last night. Aside from The King’s Speech’s win, the big surprise was Bette White winning the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series. White didn’t disappoint in an acceptance speech that was two parts humble gratitude and one part improv comedy as she fondled the statuette in a hilariously lewd manner.

It was business as usual in the acting categories as all the favored Oscar nominees won. This award -- voted on by the largest block of Oscar voters -- certainly bodes well for Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale in a month’s time. If there’s any drama to the ceremony, it will be whether The King’s Speech will take home the big prize of the night. As of tonight, things are looking up for it.

The winners

A complete list of winners

Theatrical Motion Pictures

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role

Colin Firth, "The King’s Speech"

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role

Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role

Christian Bale, "The Fighter"

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role

Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"

Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture
The King’s Speech"


Outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series

Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series

Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series

Betty White, "Hot in Cleveland"

Outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series

"Boardwalk Empire"

Outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series
"Modern Family"

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or miniseries
Al Pacino, "You Don’t Know Jack"

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or Miniseries

Claire Danes, "Temple Grandin"

Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.


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