LOS ANGELES – While Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock’s chances for Academy Award gold were advanced with their trophies at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the blockbuster “Avatar” may have felt a touch blue.
The computer-assisted performances in James Cameron’s “Avatar” didn’t make the cut for SAG nominations. But the groundbreaking sci-fi film remains a strong best-picture contender for the Oscars in March.
For Bridges of “Crazy Heart,” Bullock of “The Blind Side” and for SAG supporting-acting honorees Mo’Nique of “Precious” and Christoph Waltz of “Inglourious Basterds,” there’s reason to suspect the Oscar ceremony will be a happy rerun of Saturday’s SAG Awards and last Sunday’s Golden Globes.
All four were recognized at the Globes, as well, while “Avatar” was named best drama and Cameron won as best director.
He will face competition from director Quentin Tarantino, whose “Inglourious Basterds” won the SAG Award for best ensemble performance, which can be a precursor to the top Oscar award. Last year, SAG’s movie cast award was presented to “Slumdog Millionaire,” which went on to win the best picture Oscar.
“It was an honour to be part of it, Quentin,” “Inglourious Basterds” cast member Eli Roth said in accepting the award for his fellow actors in the off-kilter World War II revenge saga.
Bullock declined – strenuously – to look ahead.
“Shhhhh. Shhhhh. Shhhhh,” Bullock said backstage when she was asked to speculate on her Oscar chances. She won for her portrayal of a tenacious real-life mom, Leigh Anne Tuohy, who helped a youth in need, future NFL player Michael Oher.
“I would be a hostess or a waitress or a house restorer before I ever considered myself an actor, because I never thought I was good enough,” she added.
Although respected by his peers, Bridges has largely been bypassed for major awards.
“I love being an actor – pretending to be other people and getting into the shoes of other folks,” said Bridges, who plays a hard-luck, hard-living country singer in “Crazy Heart.”
Waltz was honoured for his role as an enthusiastically ruthless Nazi. Mo’Nique’s trophy came for her searing portrayal of an abusive mother in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire.”
On the TV side of the SAG Awards, the cast of AMC’s 1960s Madison Avenue saga “Mad Men” won the trophy for best drama series ensemble for the second year in a row, while 19 cast members of Fox TV newcomer “Glee,” about misfits in a high school singing club, accepted the award for best comedy series ensemble.
“Glee” claimed the best comedy series award at the Golden Globes.
Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey of NBC’s “30 Rock” won for best acting in a comedy series, allowing Fey to get in a sly joke about NBC and its bitter late-night battle with Conan O’Brien in her acceptance speech.
“I just wanted to take a moment to say to everyone at NBC, we are very happy with everything, and happy to be there,” she said. Both she and Baldwin won the awards last year.
Golden Globe winner Michael C. Hall of Showtime’s “Dexter,” wearing a cap because of treatment he’s receiving for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, won best actor in a drama series. The award for best actress in a drama went to Julianna Margulies of CBS’ “The Good Wife.”
Kevin Bacon won as best actor in a movie or miniseries for the war-themed drama, “Taking Chance,” while Drew Barrymore received best actress honours in the category for “Grey Gardens,” about eccentric relatives of Jacqueline Onassis.
Betty White, 88, accepted a lifetime achievement award from Bullock for an enduring career that included “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls,” and showed her sharp comedic chops.
When Bullock joked that she finds White annoying, White shot back, “Isn’t it heartening to see how far a girl as plain as she is can go.”
“I should be presenting an award to you for the privilege of working in this wonderful business all this time. And you still can’t get rid of me,” White told the audience.
Actors in two highly critically acclaimed films went home empty-handed, including “Up in the Air” star George Clooney and the film’s supporting actresses, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. The cast of “The Hurt Locker” also lost out.
Clooney, however, was lauded by SAG President Ken Howard for helping organize Friday’s telethon to raise money for earthquake-devastated Haiti, a rare reference to the tragedy.
Two honours not shown in the telecast went to stunt ensembles for the film “Star Trek” and the TV show “24.”
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