If Saturday night s 11th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are any indication, Oscar night winners will be best actor Jamie Foxx for Ray, best actress Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby and best picture well, that one is still anybody s guess.
Although director Clint Eastwood s Million Dollar Baby received an evening best of two SAG awards – for Swank and for Morgan Freeman, as supporting male actor – its perceived chief rival for the top Oscar, Martin Scorsese s The Aviator, landed with only one, for supporting female actor Cate Blanchett.
The actors union s biggest prize, for ensemble cast of a movie – in effect, SAG s best picture award – instead went to Alexander Payne s Sideways, despite the fact that none of its individual nominees won in their respective categories: actor Paul Giamatti and supporting actors Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen.
Jamie Foxx, still as excited as he was at last month s Golden Globes, thanked the music legend he plays on film, “Ray Charles, for being so complex and just living.” He also passed on some advice he got a long time ago from Denzel Washington: “If you win or lose, keep walking in the same direction.”
Foxx then held up his trophy and announced, “I m walking, D.”
Hilary Swank was equally jubilant. “I am amazed, lucky, thankful, speechless and, quite frankly, stunned to be a working actor,” she told those inside Los Angeles s Shrine Auditorium. She went on to say that her fellow nominees “inspire me to be a better actor” – a sentiment that elicited a smile from Being Julia star Annette Bening, seen as Swank s chief competition come Oscar Night, Feb. 27.
Morgan Freeman not only won his first SAG award but also received the evening s first standing ovation, 75 minutes into the program. He began his brief speech by paying tribute to the night s lifetime achievement award winner James Garner, singing the theme song to Garner s 1950s Western TV series Maverick.
In the TV category, Desperate Housewives cleaned up, taking the award for best comedy series ensemble cast and for comedy series actress, Teri Hatcher. Confessing to “really having no career a year ago,” Hatcher thanked her fellow actors for “letting me get rid of a lot of old perceptions about me.”
Jennifer Garner, wining as female actor in a dramatic series, said breathlessly: “The day my parents accepted I was an actor was the day I told them, I get insurance. ” Of her show, Alias, she said, “We re so lucky to have this job. It s a blast.”
In the male actor in a comedy series category, Monk star Tony Shalhoub won for a second year in a row, while the drama series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation won for its ensemble cast.
The late Law & Order star Jerry Orbach s widow, Elaine Orbach, accepted his award as top male actor in a dramatic series. (Orbach died of prostate cancer at 69 on Dec. 28.) “How bittersweet, but it s still sweet,” she said, adding that her husband s motto was: “Never leave a hit show.”