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Screen Actors Guild Awards Predict Oscars

Monday, January 29----In what will likely be a repeat by the time the Oscars are given out on February 25, the Screens Actors Guild gave out its top awards to film and television thespians in the convivial atmosphere of the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Winners were visibly moved to be recognized by their peers as they polished the speeches that they very likely will need to give again at the Kodak Theater for the big bonanza of the Academy Awards.

The SAG Award for Best Ensemble Performance by an entire cast was won by the indie-film-that-could LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Steve Carrell and Abigail Breslin took to the stage for the honors. Buzz is building that if the serious dramas THE DEPARTED and BABEL split the vote come Oscar night, that the audience-pleasing LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE may just snag the top prize as Best Picture.

Forest Whitaker as the brutal strongman Idi Amin in THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND and Dame Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in THE QUEEN won the top acting awards, much as they have done in almost all film critics and awards shows so far. If either does not go home with an Oscar, it will be a major upset that Oscar wags will discuss for decades.

In the supporting actor categories, two from the musical smash DREAMGIRLS were acknowledged, the veteran Eddie Murphy and the newcomer Jennifer Hudson. Both now seem unstoppable for Oscar glory. While the Academy could decide to honor Alan Arkin (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE), a respected actor who has never won the award, or one of the two "ethnic" actresses in BABEL (as a gesture of globalism), Murphy and Hudson seem to have a lock.

In a touching tribute, screen legend Julie Andrews was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. A child star who became a Broadway success and one of the top grossing film stars of the 1960s, Andrews won the Oscar for her very first screen performance as the star of Walt Disney's MARY POPPINS (1964). Ironically, she was passed over that same year for the role that made her famous in London and New York: Eliza Doolittle in the musical MY FAIR LADY (a non-singing Audrey Hepburn won the role in the George Cukor movie version). Andrews was feted by her MARY POPPINS co-star actor Dick Van Dyke, and her PRINCESS DIARIES protegee Anne Hathaway.

Sandy Mandelberger
Awards Watch Editor


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