On TV, comedies repeat much better than dramas. SAG-AFTRA applied that rule to its awards this year, picking first-run winners on the drama side and repeat ones in comedy.
The biggest surprise of the night came in the final TV category, best ensemble in a drama series, which went to British import Downton Abbey. Only five actors of the show’s 22-member cast were on hand to accept the award, and all appeared stunned. “Shut the french windows!,” co-star Phyllis Logan exclaimed Downton Abbey-style for one of the most original winner reactions ever. This marked the first SAG Award for Downton Abbey in its first year competing as a drama series against such heavyweights as Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
In the individual drama acting categories the SAG Awards corrected some head-scratching previous snubs. Bryan Cranston won his first SAG Award for his acclaimed performance on AMC’s Breaking Bad. And Homeland’s Claire Danes landed her first SAG Award for her role after the Showtime drama was inexplicably shut out from the nominations last year. Cranston ended his SAG Award drought in a big way, winning twice tonight, also sharing in Argo‘s best feature ensemble win.
SAG-AFTRA members love Alec Baldwin. “Oh my god, this is ridiculous,” were Baldwin’s first words when taking the stage to accept his seventh consecutive SAG Award, completing his streak of winning the award for every season of his departing NBC comedy 30 Rock. The series, whose finale airs on Thursday, received a nice farewell tonight, with statuettes for both of its stars, Baldwin and series creator Tina Fey. Fey used her acceptance speech to plead for viewers to watch the 30 Rock series finale, which airs against CBS’ juggernaut The Big Bang Theory. “Just tape The Big Bang Theory for once for crying out laud,” Fey said. Still smarting over Girls creator/star Lena Dunham’s apparent age dig at the Golden Globes, Fey said about fellow nominee and long-time friend Amy Poehler, “I’ve known you since you were pregnant with Lena Dunham.” Two weeks ago at the Golden Globes, Dunham raised eyebrows when she thanked fellow best comedy actresses, including Fey and Poehler, who “got me through middle school,” triggering a quick snarky response from Globes hosts Fey and Poehler.
More than any other voting group, SAG tends to stick with favorites. For the past six years, only three actors have won for best actor/actress in a comedy series: Baldwin, Fey (4 times) and Betty White (2). The SAG Awards also went with a repeat winner in the best comedy series ensemble category, which went to ABC’s Modern Family for a third consecutive year.
On the longform side, the SAG Awards rubber-stamped Julianne Moore and Kevin Costner’s awards season sweep as the duo added Actor statuettes to the Emmys and Golden Globes they won for their starring roles in HBO’s Game Change and History’s Hatfields & McCoys, respectively.
In one of best matched SAG Award presenter-recipient pairs, Moore, who won for her portrayal of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, introduced the best actress in a comedy series category, which was won by the other actress known for her spot-on impersonation of Palin, Fey. “You betcha,” Moore exclaimed when opening the envelope, using Palin’s most famous catch phrase, before reading off Fey’s name.
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