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Movie Glamour Back At SAG Awards

Javier Bardem in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MENJavier Bardem in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN 

Monday, January 28--------After the cancellation of the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards (and with the possibility of a no-show Oscars next month), the Screen Actors Guild Awards held last night in Los Angeles was a return to movie glamour. SAG had gotten a waiver from their fellow union, the Writers Guild of America, which has been on strike since November and has forced other awards shows to cancel their events (actors and directors refused to cross picket lines). In what was a very dignified ceremony, awards were given to individual performers and ensemble casts in motion pictures and television.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN solidified its status as an Oscar frontrunner for Best Picture with a win for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, the night's top honor. Josh Brolin accepted the award, hailing the film's directors, Joel and Ethan Coen, as "freaky little people." Javier Bardem, the Spanish actor whose bounty hunter villian in the film has become an instant movie classic, won the Best Supporting Actor award, almost assuring his Oscar statuette next month.

Other frontrunners who were feted at the event included past Oscar winners Daniel Day-Lewis of  THERE WILL BE BLOOD and Julie Christie of  AWAY FROM HER, who won Best Actor and Best Actress awards, also giving them a boost to win the same trophies at the Academy Awards. Day-Lewis, in a heartfelt acceptance speech, dedicated his win to Heath Ledger, the 28-year-old Australian actor who was found dead in his Manhattan loft last week.

The only real surprise of the evening was the announcement of Best Supporting Actress. Pundits have long predicted that Cate Blanchett was a shoo-in in this category, for her portrayal of one of the seven portraits of Bob Dylan in the Todd Haynes-directed I'M NOT THERE. Another actress, Amy Ryan, has also been feted by end-of-year film critics associations for her performance in GONE BABY GONE. But the surprise winner turned out to be veteran black actress Ruby Dee, who plays the mother of drug kingpin Denzel Washington in AMERICAN GANGSTER. Dee, who seemed truly surprised and touched by the honor, dedicated the award to her late husband, the actor Ossie Davis. Her win makes the Oscar choice in this category far less certain. Now if the Oscars actually happen, we will can see for ourselves who will win. Stay tuned.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor

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