Monday, April 15, 2024

The Artist vs. The Help: SAG Awards Sharpen Oscar Race


Sacre bleu! The #SAGAwards really upset the apple cart. Jean DuJardin beat both George Clooney and Brad Pitt for Best Actor, for “The Artist.” Viola Davis toppled Meryl Streep for “The Help” as Best Actress. And “The Help,” not “The Artist,” won Best Ensemble. But it was only yesterday that Michel Hazanavicius won the DGA’s Best Director Award for “The Artist.” So now what?

My guess: “The Artist” will win the Oscar. Here’s what happened: SAG is a union supporting local friends. “The Help” is their kind of movie. They gave acting awards to both Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, who, really, are great. You feel great rewarding them for their work. So bravo.

But “The Help” is not a visionary film like “The Artist.” And Hazanavicius’s award adds heft to “The Artist” as Best Picture. DuJardin was a surprise tonight, but hey–he’s good. My money was always on Brad Pitt. But it’s possible he and George Clooney are crossing each other out. The next two weeks will be crucial as more voters see “The Artist.”

And what about Meryl Streep? “The Iron Lady” is significant work. It’s a landmark performance. It may be that the Academy will feel Davis has been recognized, and that Meryl is their queen. Either way, it’s a tight race.

For SAG, on the TV side, I don’t care so much. Many of these people come and go. But I am so personally happy for Steve Buscemi–he is the epitome of the good guy, the hard working actor, family man, good friend. Sometimes nice guys finish guys finish first.

On another note: Mary Tyler Moore is still the most gracious and most lovely. She has lost quite a bit of her sight because of diabetes, but she soldiered out there on stage and looked great. She’s an inspiration.

SAG Awards–nicely done. Congrats to Ken Howard for pulling off the AFTRA merger.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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