The Screen Actors Guild Awards Combine Predictability and Surprises

Jenny Peters
Viola Davis
FWD102 Viola Davis attends the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 29, 2012. (Fashion Wire Daily/Maria Ramirez)

When Hollywood's biggest actors put on their own awards show, it's the party of the season. Which is why crowds formed outside the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles hours before the Screen Actors Guild Awards were scheduled to happen on Sunday, Jan. 29, for it was a night to remember for fans of both movies and television.

And it started early, with household names like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close joining perhaps slightly lesser known stars including Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, Melissa McCarthy, Michelle Williams, Sofia Vergara and Emma Stone in the bright winter sunshine for the long stroll down the red carpet. They signed autographs, shared air kisses and admired each other's outfits, then hustled inside to see who the lucky winners were.

As the SAG Awards began, the two actors who seem to be riding an express train straight to Oscar gold picked up their latest statues; Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role went to Christopher Plummer for "Beginners," while Spencer took home the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her work in "The Help." Those two have won every single award leading up to the SAG Award, but while it may be predictable at this point, neither one seems to be taking winning for granted.

"I just can't tell you what fun I've had being a member of the world's second oldest profession!" the 82-yer-old Plummer joked. "When actors honor you, it's like being lit by the Holy Grail."

Predictable, too, were the Outstanding Performance in a Comedy Series winners, both Male and Female. Alec Baldwin won his sixth SAG Award in a row for "30 Rock," while Betty White scored her second in a row for "Hot in Cleveland." The cast of "Modern Family" snagged their second consecutive Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, as did "Boardwalk Empire" for Ensemble in a Drama Series.

But then the surprises began, as Davis' performance in "The Help" beat out Streep's in "The Iron Lady" and "The Artist" star Dujardin knocked Clooney off his express train ride toward Oscar, by winning Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.

And shockingly of all, "The Help" raced away with Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, beating out the seemingly unstoppable "The Artist." Davis spoke for the assembled actors on stage, including Spencer, Stone, Jessica Chastain, Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson, Mary Steenburgen, Allison Janney, Ahna O'Reilly, Chris Lowell and Mike Vogel, when she said, "All these actors on the stage gave up their ego and were able to just work."