E: Here’s a friendly little programming note: the Screen Actors Guild Awards are given tonight, airing at 8 ET on TNT and TBS. Don’t care about the pesky technical awards for cinematography or editing? No bother with the plebes here; it’s just glamorous (ie, starving) famous people, gussied up, and gushing about how much more these awards mean because they come from fellow actors, yo. Everyone tells charming little stories about how they first got their SAG card (usually doing something utterly humiliating). There’s no bother with a host or production numbers, just lots of mindless podium talk and – I fervently hope – better speech giving than at the Golden Globes.
But, if you’re interested in the Oscars (or in tv) there’s stuff worth catching.
For example, want to see if Natalie Portman really does have a better shot at winning the Academy Award than Annette Bening? Or is there just a weird narrative about Bening always been a bridesmaid – that she was absolutely going to win until, whoops, some young thing snuck in and stole her prize? Each woman won her respective category at the Golden Globes; now we’ll get to see if the momentum really is with Portman, or if we have a fight on our hands.
And fights are always more interesting, don’t you think?
Of course, we can except Colin Firth to win, and Christian Bale, and that’s cool. They both deserve it (even if the softest place in my great-performance loving heart is reserved for John Hawkes) and it’s rather nice to see people who’ve had long careers doing good, even great work, finally be recognized. Not that the same couldn’t be said for Hawkes, of course. In supporting actress, well, that’s interesting too. Is Leo a lock? She wasn’t nominated by the British Academy and costar Amy Adams was, which leads me to think Melissa L’s ascendancy has to be questioned (even if she’s got to be considered the front runner).
And then, then there’s the delicious question of Best Ensemble – SAG’s equivalent of the Best Picture award. The Social Network, as you may know, has swept the critics awards in almost unprecedented numbers. It won the Golden Globes. Yet, when it comes to the Guilds, The King’s Speech has the lead. It’s stunned everyone by winning not only the Producer’s Guild, but also the Directors; everyone had been sure that David Fincher would win the directing awards no matter which flick won best picture. So which streak will continue? Sasha Stone, the undisputed queen of Oscar blogging, has a smart little theory about the return of the so called “Oscar” movie, harkening back to the days of Harvey Weinstein’s glory. The implication is basically that The Social Network is too smart and too dark, too edgy and too challenging to win the top prizes at groups not populated by jaded critics; that it’s this year’s Pulp Fiction or Leaving Las Vegas. The idea is that the award giving bodies prefer pretty, inspirations costumed dramas which feel important to gritty realism. Now, you know if you read this space that I prefer The King’s Speech to The Social Network, though neither one is at the top of my list for 2010. I don’t particularly find The Social Network to be more elevated or modern or relevant than The King’s Speech, or much better reviewed. But I can’t help agreeing with her – and Dave Karger – that it’s a more palatable, accessibly enjoyable film. Only to me, in this case, that’s a compliment.
Of course, if you judge by the number of performances nominated, the fight really ought to be between The Kings’ Speech and The Fighter.
So it will be fascinating, absolutely fascinating, to see what wins out. Of course there’s the usual entertainment – gorgeous gowns, celebrities, trainwrecks. The best drama on network tv (The Good Wife) could easily get lost in the rush to glorify cable’s artsiest shows, but then again, SAG really likes Julianna Margulies, so maybe she has a shot. How will the Gleeks fare? The work-family of Modern Family? And of course, there’s always the question of why delightfully daffy Helena Bonham Carter comes to all these events dressed up like it’s 1985.
Check it out, and check back in tomorrow, please, to break it all down. It’s sure to be instructive, if nothing else. I promise to admit how many times I end up crying, and that will probably be an entertaining number, too.