The Screen Actors Guild celebrated outstanding film and television stars at the 15th annual awards on Sun. Jan. 25 at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. The nominees were selected by the 100,000 nationwide members of the Guild.
Alec Baldwin took home the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Jack Donaghy on the critically-acclaimed NBC comedy “30 Rock.” And, Tina Fey received an award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, also for “30 Rock.” Fey thanked her daughter Alice for “being the funniest person in [her] family.” She also made a point to mention residuals, which took a jab at contract negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild and the entertainment conglomerates.
Next, Claire Danes presented the award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series. “30 Rock” won over the casts of “Desperate Housewives,” “Entourage,” “The Office” and “Weeds.” Jane Krakowski accepted on behalf of the cast and thanked “The Office” for their wonderful lead-in support on Thursdays.
Kate Winslet won her second SAG Award for her Supporting turn as Hanna Schmitz in “The Reader” (her first win came in 1996 for “Sense & Sensibility”). Winslet defeated Amy Adams (“Doubt”), Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Viola Davis (“Doubt”) and Taraji P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”).
Hugh Laurie won his second SAG for playing Dr. Gregory House on the FOX drama, “House.” In addition, Sally Field won for her work on ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters.”
“We inspire, we provoke and we entertain, and never, ever has that been needed more in this country than it is right now,” Field said upon receiving her award.
Emily Blunt and Eric McCormack presented the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. The cast of “Mad Men” won their first SAG after losing their first bid last year to the departing cast of “The Sopranos.”
Next, Forest Whitaker presented the Guild’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award to James Earl Jones.
“Not only is he a great man, he’s a king amongst men.You’ve been a bright, bold beacon of excellence,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker informed the audience of the various unconventional, yet commendable roles Jones pursued throughout his illustrious career.
Laura Linney took home her first SAG award for her portrayal of First Lady Abigail Adams in the HBO miniseries “John Adams.” Linney’s co-star Paul Giamatti also won for his performance as President John Adams.
Susan Sarandon introduced the “In Memoriam” montage to honor late actors and actresses. A few of the many lost in the last year include Charlton Heston, Harvey Korman, Edie Adams, Bernie Mac, Beverly Garland, George Carlin and Paul Newman.
Kristen Scott Thomas presented the award for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role to the late Heath Ledger for his stirring performance as The Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Other nominees were Josh Brolin (“Milk”), Robert Downey Jr. (“Tropic Thunder”), Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Doubt”), and Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire”). Ledger’s co-star, Gary Oldman accepted on Ledger’s behalf. Oldman became emotional when he spoke of Ledger.
“It is a great honor to be asked to accept this on behalf of Heath,” Oldman said. “He was an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent, and it’s wonderful that you all have acknowledged that and honored that talent tonight.”
Meryl Streep received a standing ovation when she won for her role as Sister Aloysius in “Doubt.” Other nominees included Anne Hathaway (“Rachel Getting Married”), Angelina Jolie (“Changeling”), Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”) and Kate Winslet (“Revolutionary Road”).
“Well, I didn’t even buy a dress! I’m really, really, really shocked,” Streep said out of breath after running up to the stage to claim her award.
Katie Holmes presented the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. Sean Penn triumphed over fellow nominees Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”), Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”), Brad Pitt (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and Mickey Rourke (“The Wrestler”). This was Penn’s first SAG win for his portrayal of activist Harvey Milk in “Milk.”
“This is a story about equal rights for all human beings,” Penn said.
Finally, Anthony Hopkins presented the final award of the evening to “Slumdog Millionaire” for their ensemble (consisting mostly of child actors from India). Star Freida Pinto made special mention of the young children, who were not in attendance.